Thursday, September 29, 2011

Centrality of Jesus' Death and Resurrection in the Bible

"Nothing is more central to the Bible than Jesus' death and resurrection. The entire Bible pivots on one weekend in Jerusalem about two thousand years ago. Attempts to make sense of the Bible that do not give prolonged thought to integrating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are doomed to failure, at best exercises in irrelevance.

Jesus' own followers did not expect him to be crucified; they certainly did not expect him to rise again. Yet after these events their thinking and attitudes were so transformed that they could see the sheer inevitability that Jesus would die on a cross and leave an empty tomb behind, and absolutely everything in their lives was changed."

-D.A. Carson Scandalous

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Gospel is Outside Us!

I once read a story about Martin Luther and a friend of his. They were writing to one another and Luther's friend had some concerns about whether or not he was trusting Christ enough. The story goes like this:

Martin Luther was translating the Bible into German at the Wartburg castle and could only have contact with his colligue Phillip Melanchthon by courier. Melanchthan had a different sort of temperament than Luther. Some would call him timid; others of a less generous bent might call him spineless. 

At one time, while Luther was off in the Wartburg castle translating, Melanchthon had another one of his attacks of timidity. He wrote to Luther, "I woke this morning wondering if I trust Christ enough." Luther received such letters from him regularly. He had a tendency to naval-gaze and to wonder about the state of his inner faith, and whether it was enough to save. Finally, in an effort to pull out all the stops and pull Melanchthon out of himself, Luther wrote back and said, "Melanchthon! Go sin bravely! Then go the cross and bravely confess it! The whole gospel is outside of us."

A couple things to point out here:

1) Luther was not encouraging sin. If you read the account carefully, Melanchthon often had these feelings of doubt about his state before God. Luther was just responding to him based upon what he knew about his friend. And it did seem that he was focusing too much on his inner faith. So please do not take this account to mean Christians are supposed to not care about their own sin. Of course that's not true. But when we do sin, because of the work of Christ, we can and should go to the cross boldly. 

2) Luther was encouraging gospel confidence. I know from my own Christian life that two or three years ago I would've looked a lot like Melanchthon. I often looked to myself for assurance of my salvation. In other words, even though I knew Christ paid it all on the cross, I still had second thoughts about my state before God. I was somehow undermining the work of Christ by clinging to my own supposed righteousness. I had forgotten a simple truth that Luther rightfully stated, "The whole gospel is outside of us." In other words, even after we become Christians it is still by grace alone! Any progress that we make in obedience to God's commands is still by grace alone! And the great result of this mindset is that, in the end, we will end up living a more obedient Christian life.

Even today I greatly struggle with this truth that my acceptance before God is based solely upon the work of Christ alone. Yet keeping this truth in mind we can live in great freedom knowing our standing before God is perfect because of our Savior Jesus! We are free. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

I have lately been thinking about the best way to present the gospel to the lost. I used to do what Ray Comfort teaches at "Way of the Master," but have noticed a couple things that I do not like. So here is my attempt to write out the gospel, and I want to credit Thabiti Anyabwile for helping me understand the gospel better.

A good way to present the gospel is in four categories: God, man, Christ, response.

1. The gospel declares that there is a God, there is none like Him. He is eternal, infinite, righteous, all wise, all knowing, and He is Creator. We as creatures, owe our Creator all love, praise, adoration, and honor. So this holy God made us in His own image for fellowship with us, and he is angry with us because we are sinners.

2. All have disobeyed God, all have dishonored God, all have turned away from Him, and therefore all deserve to die separated from God for all eternity in hell.

3. God is not only holy and righteous he is also a God of love. So God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, who took upon Himself our flesh, our likeness, and lived a perfectly righteous life to satisfy the holy requirements of God. Jesus died, suffering the wrath of God to pay the penalty for the sins of the world on Calvary's Cross, so that the wrath of God would be removed. He was buried, resurrected three days later, ascended into heaven, and He will come again.

4. Everyone who repents of sin, and trusts in Christ have Jesus' righteousness credited to their account, and has their sin nailed to the Cross with Christ, so that they bear it no more. They are justified, a miracle happens, they are made new creatures in Christ Jesus, they are united to Christ, and all the benefits of Christ become theirs through faith, who in the promise of everlasting life, receive the joy of being in the presence of God's love and glory throughout all eternity!

Our appeal to the lost is that they would first hear this message, understand it, trust in Christ, call upon his name, for everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Savoring Jesus' Kingdom

I wanted to share something I've been doing recently in my Bible devotions. I was introduced to this method by a couple friends. Its called the SOAP method. The portion of Scripture I read was Luke 1:26-45 and I picked a couple verses that stuck out to me.

Scripture: Luke 1:30-33 (ESV). "And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in you womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

Observation: The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear a son named Jesus. Jesus will be great and his kingdom will have no end.

Application: Jesus, according to his Father, is the great one. Jesus is to be worshiped for who he is, the eternal King.

Prayer: Jesus, we thank you for showing us true greatness. We thank you for giving us complete access, by your grace, to your eternal kingdom. Help us to remember our eternal home, help us to live for your kingdom, and propel us to seek to expand your kingdom with the people around us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Prodigal Love for a Prodigal Son

This is an excerpt from a sermon delivered by C.H. Spurgeon a long time ago. Spurgeon was preaching on Jesus' well known parable the Prodigal Son. The whole sermon can be read here. Enjoy reading about the love of God in Christ for you. Be encouraged in the gospel!


This poor young man, in his hungry, faint, and wretched state, having come a very long way, had not much heart in him. His hunger had taken all energy out of him, and he was so conscious of his guilt that he had hardly the courage to face his father; so his father gives him a kiss, as much as to say, “Come, boy, do not be cast down; I love you.”

Oh, the past, the past, my father!” he might moan, as he thought of his wasted years; but he had no sooner said that than he received another kiss, as if his father said, “Never mind the past; I have forgotten all about that.” This is the Lord’s way with His saved ones. Their past lies hidden under the blood of atonement. The Lord saith by His servant Jeremiah, “The iniquity if Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.”

But then, perhaps, the young man looked down on his foul garments, and said, “The present, my father, the present, what a dreadful state I am in!” And with another kiss would come the answer, “Never mind the present, my boy. I am content to have you as you are. I love you.” This, too, is God’s word to those who are “accepted in the Beloved.” In spite of all their vileness, they are pure and spotless in Christ, and God says of each one of them, “Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honourable, and I have loved you. Therefore, though in yourself you are unworthy, through My dear Son you are welcome to My home.”

“Oh, but,” the boy might have said, “the future, my father, the future! What would you think if I should ever go astray again?”Then would come another holy kiss, and his father would say, “I will see to the future, my boy; I will make home so bright for you that you will never want to go away again.” But God does more than that for us when we return to Him. He not only surrounds us with tokens of His love, but He says concerning us, “They shall be My people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” Furthermore, He says to each returning one, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.”

Whatever there was to trouble the son, the father gave him a kiss to set it all right; and, in like manner, our God has a love-token for every time of doubt and dismay which may come to His reconciled sons. Perhaps one whom I am addressing says, “Even though I confess my sin, and seek God’s mercy, I shall still be in sore trouble, for through my sin, I have brought myself down to poverty.” “There is a kiss for you,” says the Lord: “Your bread shall be given to you, and your water shall be sure.” “But I have even brought disease upon myself by sin,” says another. “There is a kiss for you, for I am Jehovah-Rophi, the Lord that heals you, who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases.” “But I am dreadfully down at the heel,” says another. The Lord gives you also a kiss, and says, “I will lift you up, and provide for all your needs. No good thing will I withhold from them that walk uprightly.” All the promises in this Book belong to every repentant sinner, who returns to God believing in Jesus Christ, His Son.

The father of the prodigal kissed his son much, and thus made him feel happy there and then. Poor souls, when they come to Christ, are in a dreadful plight, and some of them hardly know where they are I have known them talk a lot of nonsense in their despair, and say hard and wicked things of God in their dreadful doubt. The Lord gives no answer to all that, except a kiss, and then another kiss. Nothings puts the penitent so much at rest as the Lord’s repeated assurance of His unchanging love. Such a one the Lord has often received, “and kissed him much,” that He might fetch him up even from the horrible pit, and set his feet upon a rock, and establish his goings.

HT: Timmy Brister