God is Love…

If one perfection of God shines out in redemption with greater effulgence than any other, it is this. Love is the focus of all the rest, the golden thread that draws and binds them all together in holy and beautiful cohesion. Love was the moving, controlling attribute in God’s great expedient of saving sinners. Justice may have demanded it, holiness may have required it, wisdom may have planned it, and power may have executed it; but love originated the whole. [It] was the moving cause in the heart of God, so that the salvation of the sinner is not so much a manifestation of the justice, holiness, wisdom, or power of God, as it is a display of His love.

-Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

Obama’s attack on the Gospel…

At the core of God’s Word is this truth: man is sinful. From Adam—the first man—sin spread to all mankind: “…through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). We are born sinners who sin. Therefore, when the Son of God took on flesh and lived among men there came an announcement appropriate to the context of the sinfulness of mankind: “He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). When Jesus began preaching he contextualized perfectly: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

That the One who came to save His people from their sins was a preacher of repentance should not be lost on us. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). That Jesus came preaching repentance was God’s tolerance toward you and me. He said what you are is not good, therefore, repent. To the sexual immoral, Jesus says repent. To the thief, Jesus says repent. To the covetous, Jesus says repent. To the drunkard, Jesus says repent. To the fornicator, Jesus says repent. To the idolater, Jesus says repent. To the blasphemer, Jesus says repent. To the self-righteous, Jesus says repent. To me, Jesus says repent. To you, Jesus says repent.

At every point where the unchanging Law of God reveals a knowledge of sin, you and I are called to repent.

Why? Because “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb 9:27). There is a judgment to come where the repentant will meet their Savior and the unrepentant will meet their uncovenanted Judge.

This is the Christian faith. God’s Word teaches these truths for the good of our own sinful souls, and we announce them for the good of every sinful soul in the world. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Praise God there is that one way…open only to those who repent and believe.

To not announce such glories would be the worst kind of cruelty. To allow someone to persist in his sin until he dies is unkind and merciless. To not call for all men everywhere to repent is to denounce the tolerance of God.

Someone once told me I was a blasphemer and a foul-mouthed jerk…using the words of James 3. I repented by the grace of God. And Scripture has continued the same annihilation of my sinful nature, inherited from Adam. Everywhere proud, everywhere lusting, everywhere envious, everywhere unkind. And I, by the grace of God, hope to continue in repentance until the day I die…and then inherit my reward.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

In hellish contrast, watch this video released by the Obama administration:

Contrast the worldview of this video with what I laid out above from the Scriptures. Repentance—the kindness of God, remember—is the enemy. The gospel of “such were some of you” is intolerable. In its place—all dressed up in the language of affirmation and love—is bondage to sin and the damnable weight of an ever-changing law.

So devastatingly sad. But Christians will continue to preach the gospel of such were some of you until our governing officials make us shut-up. This video makes clear such silence is the desire of our President. In the meantime, we will preach repentance because we love our Savior, the friend of sinners, and because we love sinners.

It is those who reject repentance that hate souls.

Remembering sin…

Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? “But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” — He said to the paralytic — “I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home” (Luke 17:20-24).

Sin is the main problem in the world, right? At least we know that to be the thing Christians are supposed to say. Sin is the reason we need salvation by the Son of God. We know that truth in our heads but have we gotten confused about it? Do we really believe it?

Our physical bodies often dominate our thoughts and determine our actions. We are well studied when it comes to knowing our diets and our treatments and our doctors and our aches and pains but virtually ignorant when it comes to knowing our spiritual health. Think about the focus of our prayers. 75% of the requests you and I bring to prayer meetings is for physical healing and relief. Yes, Jesus cares about our bodies (as we see in these miracles). Yes, diseases and afflictions are the result of sin so to talk of one is to talk of the other. But we make a serious and fatal mistake if we think our worst problems are those that afflict our bodies. Continue reading

Judged according to our works?

2Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Rev. 22:12   “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

A question came up in our Sunday school class a few weeks back about whether or not we are judged according to our works. The question arose as we were talking about the Athanasian Creed. Near the end of the creed, we read these statements:

40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

42. and shall give account of their own works.

43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

So, is that final statement (#43) Biblical? Perhaps taken alone it is a bit too stark.

2 Corinthians 5:10 and Revelation 22:12 make it clear that our final judgment is according to our works. Ephesian 2:8-9 makes it clear that our salvation (justification) is by grace apart from works. During the class, I said that every man faces a judgment according to his works and he who receives condemnation receives what he has earned by his evil works. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

But what of those on the other side of the divide ? How do the good works of the righteous relate to their final judgment?

Here’s some help from Calvin in his commentary on 2 Corinthians:

As the passage relates to the recompensing of deeds, we must notice briefly, that, as evil deeds are punished by God, so also good deeds are rewarded, but for a different reason; for evil deeds are requited with the punishment that they deserve, but God in rewarding good deeds does not look to merit or worthiness. For no work is so full and complete in all its parts as to be deservedly well-pleasing to him, and farther, there is no one whose works are in themselves well-pleasing to God, unless he render satisfaction to the whole law. Now no one is found to be thus perfect. Hence the only resource is in his accepting us through unmerited goodness, and justifying us, by not imputing to us our sins. After he has received us into favor, he receives our works also by a gracious acceptance. It is on this that the reward hinges. There is, therefore, no inconsistency in saying, that he rewards good works, provided we understand that mankind, nevertheless, obtains eternal life gratuitously.

Notice that he says the good works of the justified sinner does not earn him merit or salvation–that is the work of Christ alone. Those good works, though, do factor into the judgment in that God rewards those who do good. Those rewards are by God’s gracious acceptance of our works done by faith in His Son (Eph. 2:10).

But can we say more than that? Are those good works necessary for salvation? In what sense are they necessary? Continue reading

Good Friday meditations from John Murray…

The lost in perdition will everlastingly bear the unrelieved and unmitigated judgment due to their sins; they will eternally suffer in the exaction of the demands of justice. But there was only one, and there will not need to be another, who bore the full weight of divine judgment upon sin and bore it so as to end it. The lost will eternally suffer in the satisfaction of justice. But they will never satisfy it. Christ satisfied justice. “The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). He was made sin and He was made a curse. He bore our iniquities. He bore the unrelieved and unmitigated damnation of sin, and He finished it. That is the spectacle that confronts us in Gethsemane and on Calvary. This is the explanation of Gethsemane with its bloody sweat and agonizing cry, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Matt. 26:39). And this is the explanation of the most mysterious utterance that ever ascended from earth to heaven, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Perish the thought that “there is a Gethsemane hid in all love!” And perish the presumption that dares to speak of our Gethsemanes and Calvaries! It is trifling with the most solemn spectacle in all history, a spectacle unparalleled, unique, unrepeated, and unrepeatable. To approximate this spectacle to the analogy of our human experience is to disclose a state of mind and feeling insensitive to the alphabet of Christianity. Here we are the spectators of a wonder the praise and glory of which eternity will not exhaust. It is the Lord of glory, the Son of God incarnate, the God-man, drinking the cup given Him by the eternal Father, the cup of woe and of indescribable agony. We almost hesitate to say so. But it must be said. It is God in our nature forsaken of God. The cry from the accursed tree evinces nothing less than the abandonment that is the wages of sin. And it was abandonment endured vicariously because He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. There is no analogy. He Himself bore our sins and of the people there was none with Him. There is no reproduction or parallel in the experience of archangels or of the greatest saints. The faintest parallel would crush the holiest of men and the mightiest of the angelic host.

Who will say that the vicarious endurance of the unrelieved and unmitigated judgment of God upon sin impairs the initiative and character of eternal love? It is the spectacle of Gethsemane and Calvary, thus interpreted, that opens to us the folds of unspeakable love. The Father did not spare His own Son. He spared nothing that the dictates of unrelenting rectitude demanded. And it is the undercurrent of the Son’s acquiescence that we hear when He says, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). But why? It was in order that eternal and invincible love might find the full realization of its urge and purpose in redemption by price and by power. Of Calvary the spirit is eternal love and the basis eternal justice. It is the same love manifested in the mystery of Gethsemane’s agony and of Calvary’s accursed tree that wraps eternal security around the people of God. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35). “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38, 39). That is the security which a perfect atonement secures and it is the perfection of the atonement that secures it.

-John Murray, Redemption–Accomplished and Applied, 77-78.

Fullness of Time…

Some encouragement from the Good Shepherd Band…

 

From Adam’s rebellion to Moses’ good law,
Death reigned the master of men;
With all of creation, held under its claw,
Awaiting redemption from sin.
But when the law thundered in earthquake and fire,
Weak as it was through our flesh,
It could not help conquer our sinful desires,
Only tightened the noose ‘round our neck.

Still, God remembered His mercy in wrath
And promised a way of escape:
A Lamb to be killed on the people’s behalf
Would trample the head of the snake.
But though we would offer our best to the fire,
And rivers of blood would be spilt,
This could not help with our sinful desires,
Nor atone for the depth of our guilt.

Chorus
When the fullness of time had come,
God sent us His only Son,
Born of a woman, born under law,
So that He might a people redeem.        (x2)

With joy set before Him and love to display,
He laid aside His great crown;
To share in our nature as creatures of clay,
He emptied Himself and came down:
Lived like a servant without any home,
Carried our sorrows and griefs,
Was spit at, rejected, despised and alone;
Accursed, He hung on a tree.

(Chorus)

Bridge
No longer slaves, we were bought with a price;
Adopted, delivered, we’re sons now with Christ.
We stand in His righteousness dressed,
To His righteousness freed!                         (x2)

(Chorus)

So that He might a people redeem.

Lyrics and Music by Jody Killingsworth

"Friendship must be cemented by piety."

Friendship must be cemented by piety. A wicked man cannot be a true friend; and, if you befriend their wickedness, you show that you are wicked yourselves. Pretend not to love them, if you favor their sins, and seek not their salvation. By favoring their sins, you will show your enmity to God; and then how can you love your brother? If you be their best friends, help them against their worst enemies. And think not all sharpness inconsistent with love: parents correct their children, and God himself chastens every son whom he receiveth.’ Augustine saith, Better it is to love even with the accompaniment of severity, than to mislead by (excess of) lenity.’

-Richard Baxter in The Reformed Pastor

Tuesday Thomas Watson: What is forgiveness of sin?

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12).

What is forgiveness of sin?

It is God’s passing by sin, wiping off the score and giving us a discharge. Micah 7:18.

[1] The nature of forgiveness will more clearly appear, by opening some Scripture phrases; and by laying down some propositions.

(1) To forgive sin, is to take away iniquity. ‘Why dost thou not take away mine iniquity?’ Job 7:21. Hebrew, lift off. It is a metaphor taken from a man that carries a heavy burden which is ready to sink him, and another comes, and lifts it off, so when the heavy burden of sin is on us, God in pardoning, lifts it off from the conscience, and lays it upon Christ. ‘He has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ Isa 53:6.

(2) To forgive sin, is to cover it. ‘Thou hast covered all their sin.’ Psa 85:2. This was typified by the mercy-seat covering the ark, to show God’s covering of sin through Christ. God does not cover sin in the Antinomian sense, so as he sees it not, but he so covers it, that he will not impute it.

(3) To forgive sin, is to blot it out. ‘I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions.’ Isa 43:25. The Hebrew word, to blot out, alludes to a creditor who, when his debtor has paid him, blots out the debt, and gives him an acquittance; so when God forgives sin, he blots out the debt, he draws the red lines of Christ’s blood over it, and so crosses the debt-book.

(4) To forgive sin is for God to scatter our sins as a cloud. ‘I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions.’ Isa 44:22. Sin is the cloud, an interposing cloud, which disperses, that the light of his countenance may break forth.

(5) To forgive sin, is for God to cast our sins into the depths of the sea, which implies burying them out of sight, that they shall not rise up in judgement against us. ‘Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.’ Micah 7:19. God will throw them in, not as cork that rises again, but as lead that sinks to the bottom.

-Thomas Watson in The Lord’s Prayer

Tuesday Thomas Watson

The pardoned soul is an admirer of God. ‘Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?’ Mic 7:18. Oh, that God should ever look upon me! I was a sinner, and nothing but a sinner, yet I obtained mercy! ‘Who is a God like unto thee?’ Mercy has been despised, and yet that mercy saves me. Christ has been crucified by me, yet his cross crowns me. God has displayed the ensigns of free grace, he has set up his mercy above my sin, nay, in spite of it. This causes admiration. ‘Who is a God like thee?’ A man that goes over a narrow bridge in the night, and next morning sees the danger he was in, how miraculously he escaped, is filled with admiration; so when God shows a man how near he was falling into hell, how that gulf is passed, and all his sins are pardoned, he is amazed, and cries out, ‘Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?’ That God should pardon one and pass by another—one should be taken and another left—fills the soul with wonder and astonishment.

-Thomas Watson in The Lord’s Prayer (1692)