I, Michael, The Sinner

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What is the responsibility that God has given us?

One of the most tragic errors the church can make is to emphasise the work that believers should be doing for God. How many times have you heard heavy, condemning sermons that tell you, “You ought to be praying more! You ought to be giving more! You ought to be witnessing more, or reading your Bible more, or serving God on some committee more!” How often do you go to church looking for encouragement only to hear about your failure and how disappointed God must be with you? 
The last thing I need i for someone to lay a heavy burden on me about my failures. I know I ought to be doing more. No one needs to tell me that I don’t pray enough or read my Bible enough or give to God enough. All I get from such messages is a huge guilt complex. My frustration increases because I really want to love God more, to pray more, to have a deeper fellowship with Him. When we place our emphasis on areas of failure, we end up creating defeated, discouraged Christians who give up and drop out of the race. 
What a different message we see when we turn to the New Testament! It highlights not what we ought to be doing for God, but what God has already done for us. What we can do for God can never be enough. Our efforts at righteousness are always marred by our imperfections. What what God has done for us is perfect, beautiful, complete, and fantastic. How sad that we have reversed the equation and constantly harp upon our responsibility instead of God’s wonderful grace! This is why we see so much of the church on the verge of dying out. We don’t need someone to remind us of our failures as much as we need someone to show us the way out of our predicament. We need grace, not guilt. 

God has given you one simple responsibility: to believe in His promise. You can enjoy the blessing of a relationship with God even though you may not pray enough, or give enough, or sacrifice enough because of your faith in what God has already done for you.
God made Jesus to be sin for you that you might be made the righteousness of God through Him. Jesus imparts to you His righteousness when you simply place your faith and trust in the work He has done for you. His work is all of grace. 

Chuck Smith 

Why Grace Changes Everything
Harvest House Publishers, 1995 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Its not enough that we simply know truth. God wants us to feel it, to believe it, and to apprehend it in the deepest, most personal way. He wants us to be able to say, “The cross is for me. The empty tomb is for me. Forgiveness and adoption and redemption are mine because I am united with Jesus Christ! Jesus loves me! Jesus is with me!”

Joshua Harris, 
Dug Down Deep 
Multnomah, 2010, pg 191

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What does it mean to be forgiven?

The forgiveness of all sins! From your childhood to your old age! The sins of fourscore years, if you have lived so long! Your public misdemeanors, your private trespasses, your overt acts, your secret thoughts, your uttered words, your smothered wishes—the whole catalog all unrolled of your transgressions and [iniquities] shall be at once blotted out from the book of God's remembrance, if you trust in Jesus Christ! They shall not be laid to your charge. However black the list, or long the inventory, do but trust in this Man and they shall be all forgiven you! He that confesses his sin and comes to Jesus shall find mercy!  

- C.H. Spurgeon
Simple Fact and Simple Faith

(No. 3547)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Why Preach Leviticus?

  Similarly, if you only look at the highlights of the Pentateuch, you’ll preach the famous stories, but you’ll probably also miss what the Holy Spirit has to say through much of Leviticus. Chapter after chapter of regulations about sacrifices, offerings, washings, purifications, and the like does not seem at first to make for good, exciting sermons. Yet all that concern for purity in sacrifice is a crucial part of the Christian story. It was pointing to the ultimate sacrifice of the perfectly obedient One, who shed His blood so that we could be forgiven once for all. Jesus paid it all. His blood washes clean.
That is why the book of Leviticus is important, and why we need to preach it even if it’s not filled with dramatic stories. Do our people feel the burden and weight of sin that called for such detailed regulations and rituals? Do they feel the release and exaltation of not having to do these things every day, of not having to sit outside the tent, of not having to worry about being ritually unclean? By the power of the gospel, there is no one who needs to be unclean or unrighteous in God’s sight, for sinners are washed one for all in the blood of the Lamb. Every text - not just the ones we know well - cries out about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Al Mohler,
He is not silent, Moody Publishers, 2008 Pg. 96-97

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Forgiven AND Accepted.

The voice that spells forgiveness will say:
"You may go, you have been let off the penalty which your sins deserve."
But the verdict which means acceptance  [justification] will say: 
"You may come; you are welcome to all My love and My presence."

Marcus Loane

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday

Grant, O Lord, that as we are baptised into the death of Thy blessed Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, so by continual mortifying our corrupt affections we may be buried with Him; and that through the grave, and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection ; for His merits, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer
Easter Even, Collect

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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gift of Gifts

O source of all good,
Of what shall I render to Thee for the gift of gifts,
    Thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
    My Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
    His self-emptying incomprehensible,
    His infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.
Herein is wonder of wonders:

    He came below to raise me above
    He was born like me that I might become like Him.
Herein is love;
    when I cannot rise to Him He draws near on wings of grace,
      to raise me to Himself.
Herein is power;
    when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
    He united them in indissoluble unity, the uncreated and the created.
Herein is wisdom;
    when I was undone, with no will to return to Him,
     and no intellect to devise recovery,
    He came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost
      as man to die my death,
          to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
          to work out a perfect righteousness for me.
O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds
    and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
    and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
    my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
    my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
    to look with them upon my Redeemer's face,
    and in Him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born Child to my heart,
    embrace Him with undying faith,
    exulting that He is mine and I am His,
in Him Thou hast given me so much that heaven can give no more. 

-Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennet, Editor,
Banner of Truth Trust, 1975

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Not forgetting, but remembering.

At the end of the meal, Jesus arises, takes off His outer garments, ties the towel around His waist, and fills the basin with water. He couldn’t be about to do what you think He’s about to do! This is Lord God Almighty. This is the Son of God, the promised King, the Creator of all that is. This One is the fulfillment of all the covenant promises. This is the Saviour Lamb. He can’t be thinking of doing something so unseemly, so undignified, and so slave-like. But that was exactly His intention. 
And it is vital to understand that He knew exactly who He was and how this connected to His true identity and mission. John says that Jesus went at this low and dirty task knowing exactly who He was, where He’d come from, and what He was sent to do: “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going back to God, rose.” 
This stunning act of humble love resulted not from Jesus’ forgetting who He was but from remembering who He was. This was the holy mission of the Son Saviour. He had to be willing to enter the lowest human condition, to do the most debased thing, and to let go of His rights of position in order that we might be redeemed. It was a high and holy calling, and it was the only way. His identity, as the Son of God, didn’t lead Him to be arrogant and entitled, unwilling to do what needed to be done to accomplish redemption. His identity didn’t cause Him to assess that He was too good for the task. No, His identity motivated and propelled Him to do what the disciples were convinced was below them.

Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling, Inter-Varsity Press, Nottingham, 2012, pg. 172-173

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Jesus truly was one of us.

As we behold the mystery of His tears, hunger and thirst, let us remember that the one who wept also raised the dead to life, rejoicing for Lazarus. 
From the very One who thirsted flowed rivers of living water. 
He who hungered was able to wither the fig tree which offered no fruit for His hunger. 
How could this be, that He who was able to strike the green tree dead merely by His word could also have a nature that could hunger? 
This was the mystery of His hunger, grief, and thirst, that the Word was assuming flesh. 
His humanity was entirely exposed to our weakness, yet even then His glory was not wholly put away as He suffered these indignities. 
His weeping was not for Himself, His thirst was not for water, nor His hunger merely for food. He did not eat or drink or weep just to satisfy His appetites. Rather, in His incarnate humbling He was demonstrating the reality of His own body by hungering, by doing what human nature does. And when He ate and drank, it was not a concession to some necessity external to Himself, but to show His full participation in the human condition. 
Hilary of Poiters (c. 315 – c. 367) 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

God is Good. God is Love.

If God were good but not loving, He would condemn and destroy anything that turned away from His goodness. Conversely, if He were loving but not good, he could not turn against anyone who rejected His nonexistent goodness. Nor is there anything remarkable about a good God who loves creatures who are as good as He is; that is just what we would expect. But the Christian gospel says that, in His love, God has reached out to those who have rebelled against Him and embraced evil.
Gerald Bray, God is Love : A Biblical and Systematic Theology, 
Crossway, 2012, pg. 70

Who controls our frail lives?

Moreover, believers must turn their eyes to Jesus the enthroned Lord. He is at the throne of God. His redemptive work complete, He waits for the consummation of the ages and for the great moment when every tongue shall confess His lordship. These first century believers were about to be exposed to the cruel hands of Caesar’s lordship. As the social pressures gave way to physical assault, they would need this assurance of the enthroned Christ. They took heart from the assured fact that their destiny was not in the hands of Caesar, his provincial governors or their local magistrates. Their frail lives were in the strong hands of Jesus, the enthroned Lord.
Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews, Inter-Varsity Press, 1982 Pg. 230