Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why does God explain Himself?

Providential happenings may serve to remind us, more or less vividly, that God is as work (cf. Acts 14:17), but their link, if any, with His saving purposes cannot be known until He Himself informs us of it. No event is self-interpreting at this level. The Exodus, for instance, was only one of many tribal migrations that history knows (cf. Amos 9:7); Calvary was only one of many Roman executions. Whoever could have guessed the unique saving significance of these events, had not God Himself spoken to tell us?
J.I. Packer, God Has Spoken, Revelation and the Bible, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, 1979, pg. 76

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why have we been made acceptable before God?

One of Satan’s favourite ploys is to accuse us before God, pointing out that we have no righteousness of our own and therefore no right to stand in God’s presence. Once again, we are faced with a half truth that can easily lead us astray, if we are not careful. As a statement of fact, Satan is right to say that we are unworthy to stand before God, but in saying this he is not reckoning with God’s grace and mercy, to both of which he is a stranger. 
A classic example that illustrates this occurs in Zechariah 3:1-2, where the prophet has a vision of the high priest who is clothed in filthy rags and is therefore unworthy to perform the all-important task of making atonement for the sins of the people. But the high priest, who is called Joshua, is saved by God, and Joshua’s atoning sacrifice is accepted because he has taken the sins of the people on himself. His filthy clothing is not a sign of his character but the sins of the people for whom he is making atonement, and the fact that the high priest takes this on himself reveals a deeper righteousness than anything that Satan can grasp. 

The vision of Zechariah was fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus, when He became sin for us in order to take it away and make it possible for us to share in the righteousness of God Himself. We who are filthy inside and totally unworthy of God’s grace have been covered by a cloak of righteousness dyed in the blood of the One who was slain in our place. It is because of that covering that we who have no merit of our own have been made acceptable to God. Satan has no right to accuse those whom Jesus has chosen and united to Himself - because we have been set free from the condemnation that we would otherwise deserve. That does not stop Satan from trying, of course, and it is here perhaps more than anywhere else that we must be constantly on our guard, so as not to fall into the trap that he wants to set for us. 

Gerald Bray, God is Love, pg. 363-364 
Crossway, 2012

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Love Lustres at Calvary

My Father,
Enlarge my heart, warm my affections,
open my lips,
supply words that proclaim ‘Love Lustres at Calvary.’
There grace removes my burdens
and heaps them on Thy Son,
made a transgressor, a curse, and sin for me;
There the sword of Thy justice smote the man,
Thy fellow;
There Thy infinite attributes were magnified,
and infinite atonement was made;
There infinite punishment was due,
and infinite punishment was endured.
Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
cast off that I might be brought in,
trodden down as an enemy
that I might be welcomed as a friend,
surrendered to hell’s worst
that I might attain heaven’s best,
stripped that I might be clothed,
wounded that I might be healed,
athirst that I might drink,
tormented that I might be comforted,
made a shame that I might inherit glory,
entered darkness that I might have eternal light.
My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,
groaned that I might have endless song,
endured all pain that I might have unfading health,
bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem,
bowed His head that I might uplift mine,
experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,
closed His eyes in death that I might gaze on unclothed brightness,
expired that I might forever live.
O Father, who spared not thine own Son
that Thou mightest spare me,
All this transfer Thy love designed and accomplished;
Help me to adore Thee by lips and life.
O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise,
my every step buoyant with delight,
as I see my enemies crushed,
Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed,
sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood,
hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open.
Go forth, O conquering God, and show me
the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save.

~ Love Lustres at Calvary, in The Valley of Vision