Praise the Lord that today Christ alone is our hope whether in life or in death.
Praise the Lord that today Christ alone is our hope whether in life or in death.
This morning as many go to worship collectively, many will worship what they do not know. They will attempt to worship with hearts of stone and not with new hearts given by God at the moment of salvation.
The Bible is clear that all are sinners, and that only those who come to Christ alone by grace through faith alone will be granted eternal life.
Today, heed the words of this beautiful hymn and “Come, O Sinner, Come!” If you have been redeemed, then rejoice that you came and your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
The words of this hymn always stir my mind and heart. It is one of the hymns that I chose a long time ago to have played at my funeral when it comes for me to enter into eternity. While I will no longer care about this mortal flesh, this hymn of praise is my testimony.
Amazing love, how can it be?
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!
No condemnation now I dread,
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Psalm 41:1-2 To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah. As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
The years have come and gone and I see myself not much wiser than I was when the Lord first brought me to Himself compared to actual years of a person. For instance, I was saved 25 years ago and yet I have to wonder about my spiritual growth. As I’ve contemplated life and it’s difficulties, I’ve also contemplated why it seems I’ve hardly grown in that amount of time. Yes, there have been times where I’ve been fervent and desired change but was it for the right reasons?
Not too long ago, Sony Elise posted about sin and holiness. In it she said, “I feel like, in many churches, more emphasis is placed on God’s forgiveness as opposed to His holiness. I am so grateful for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but there are often still consequences to the fleshly decisions that we make. This is one reason that it is important to walk in the Spirit so that you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).” This can also be said about each true believer within their personal lives.
Why is holiness so important? It’s because God hates sin. If we love Him then we should love what He loves and hate what He hates. How can we pant for the Lord and long after Him if we are willing to entertain sin within our lives? Is it easy to get caught up in daily living and forget the Lord is sovereign and in control of each situation we are involved in? Yes! Is it easy to live as if we were atheists and completely shut out the Lord except for Sunday? Yes! Is it easy to get angry at those who hurt us and aren’t willing to make things right? Yes, again! And it’s so easy to fall over and over again!
We are all sinners but if we are true believers then we should seek to make things right! What if they aren’t willing to do so or even listen to us? Then we must forgive and move on! We can mourn over what happened but there comes a time when the Lord says, “It’s time for you to love me even more! Who do you have in heaven but Me? There is none on earth that you should desire except Me. Your heart and your flesh fail continuously but I am the strength of your heart. I am your Portion forever.”
My heart should respond with, “Yes, Lord! You are all that and more! My heart pants for You as the deer pants for the water and even more than that! My soul thirsts for You and I cannot be satisfied unless You fill me to overflowing with You! I want to do Your will no matter how hard it is, no matter what persecutions and sorrows I will go through, no matter who stands with me or doesn’t because I love You beyond life itself!” Yes, it will still be easy to fall and live that life without the Lord but let those of us, who are true believers, beg for God to give us such a love for Him that we hate what He hates and love what He loves.
Let holiness and grace reign in our hearts so completely that when people are around us, even though we sin regularly, they can say, “He or she has been with Christ!” They may not like us for the conviction within their hearts but we need to be like Him.
I long to be like the Lord Jesus but I fail miserably on a daily basis and yet…I want to be holy as He is holy. I want to thirst for Him to fill me in such a way that I seek to love Him and do what He wants in every way!
Let me see my sin, dear Lord,
as though I were looking through Your eyes,
My heart and the blackness that is within,
the sin for which You died
Let Your horror of sin be my heartbreak
Blur mine eyes with tears of agony
For if once I could see my sin the way You see
I would seek to hate my sin for love of Thee.
Change my sin sick soul, dear Lord,
so that I will become more like Christ
Make me pure and white within, dear Lord,
give me strength to follow You in this fight
May I stand for truth whatever happens
Give my heart holy tenacity
For Your death on the cross is what gave life to me
Now I want my life wholly given to Thee.
Praise ye the Lord! O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: and His mercy endureth forever. Psalm 106:1
The Lord is worthy of all praise. Whether we are going through easy or rough times we know that He alone is the worthy one. As the days draw nearer to the end times we see the world falling apart. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see people we thought were godly and standing for truth suddenly fall away to heresy. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see an ungrateful generation who think they are owed everything. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see a generation that has no natural affection and are truce breakers and unholy. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see loved ones turn on us and break our hearts. Praise the Lord for He is good!
Whatever we are going through, we, as true believers, are told to give thanks to the Lord and praise Him no matter what happens. How can we be thankful to the Lord when the hard times keep rolling our way? Give thanks and praise to the only One Who deserves it. Learn contentment even in the midst of trials. Let’s look to the Lord when our heart is breaking and there is no one who will listen to us or when we can’t tell anyone what is going on in our lives. Praise the Lord for He is good!
As we go through life we can’t expect we will be trial free. Sometimes the trials feel like they are more than we can bear but we must cast all our cares on the Lord. He knows what we need and He will give us strength to make it through. Don’t wait until life is falling apart before you praise the Lord. Do it in the good times and the bad. Do it whether you feel like it or not. Praise the Lord for He is good!
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).
But if you had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless (Matthew 12:7).
A while back, I came to the conclusion that I would rather err on the side of mercy when relating to others. I’m not talking about being soft on sin. But I am talking about walking graciously toward others who may not be at the same place in their walk with the Lord as you or I may be. And, if a brother or sister is caught in sin, learning how to “restore such a one in the spirit of meekness” (Gal. 6:1).
When I look at others who are covered with the scars of bad decisions they have made, I do not lose sight of the fact that there but for the grace of God go I. God has spared me from a lot in life but that is a testimony to His goodness, not mine.
Luke 6:36 tells us:
Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Matthew 5:7 says:
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
I have received so much mercy in my life. How could I be so heartless as to not show mercy in return?
Dictionary.com defines “mercy” as:
I have lived almost half a century. Being both a US citizen and a British subject, I can say that I have seen my share of politics. I have seen the games, heard the lies, and watched the vitriol fly. This current election in the USA must be the worse I have ever seen. We are a laughingstock among the nations of the world, many of whom have no fear of us as a nation. More importantly, they have no respect for us because our leaders (and potential wanna-be leaders) have no respect for the laws of this land.
America used to be a very great nation. We are the nation that was silent for the first 3 years of The Great War, also known as World War I. Finally joining in, the men of this nation answered the call to arms and routed the enemies of freedom. That was ALL that was fought for.
The same thing occurred in World War II when the greatest generation of Americans who have ever lived rose up and resoundingly thrashed the enemies of freedom on two fronts (Europe and Asia). We asked for nothing, but gave much. After all was said and done, we sent more of men and women to former war fronts and America rebuilt those nations one brick at a time. We even paid for it with grants, many of which have still not been repaid.
The men and women who gave their lives in the theaters of war followed their orders so that we might have the freedoms we enjoy today.
Sadly, I never thought, and I am sure our Founding Fathers, nor those veterans of war from World War II on, could have thought or imagined that our nation would be allowed to flounder like a fish out of water. To think that the choices for President and Commander-in-Chief is down to the vulgar, trash-talking, debauched candidate on one side and a feminist, God-hating, traitor on the other side is just enough to make anybody with half an ounce of common sense want to vomit – violently!
However, there is something even worse than what we are seeing today. Our nation has become a nation that panders to evil. It calls good to be evil, and evil to be good. Our nation has become a culture that thinks it is entitled. It thinks it is entitled to disrespect the American flag while being paid millions of dollars. Sadly, most of the people who complain about this are the same ones who will still pay hundreds of dollars at sporting events every single week and thus support and endorse what is taking place.
Our society believes that is must speak from the pocketbook because after all, “it’s about the economy, stupid!” When will we ever learn? Obviously, it is true that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This once great nation is repeating history. History shows that Rome was NOT destroyed by her enemies. She was destroyed from within. Rome thought she was entitled to what she had. Ultimately, she was destroyed because she forgot the reason she existed was because of God and God alone.
Not only is our society at large a problem, but even the evangelical church is a problem. We have people fighting back and forth across the aisles of Facebook, Twitter, and even church itself trying to decide why and which of the lesser of two great, monstrous evils to vote for!
Seriously?? Let’s put this into perspective.
Let’s assume in a few years that the choice is down to a president who promises that he or she will only kill 10 Christians per day versus a president who promises that he or she will only kill just one (1) Christian per day. Are our only choices really to vote for the lesser of these two evils? The cries are growing louder and I can hear some saying, “Oh, that would never happen!”
May I remind you that we can easily substitute the word “Christian” in the above sentence and replace it with “baby” or “infant.” We end up with the same solution. We soothe our conscience by declaring that we are only voting for the president who “promises to only kill just one (1) baby a day” on his watch instead of standing for what is right.
You can argue all you want while using the illustrations of Joseph being second in command in Egypt, and Daniel being third in command in all of Babylon. Those two men were NOT voted in to their office. They were placed strategically, specifically, and sovereignly in those places of power by none other than God for a specific purpose.
The Christians of Rome had no option to “vote” for the lesser of two evil Caesars. They would NEVER have been told by the apostles to “vote your conscience” or “vote for the lesser of two evils and hope for the best.” Utter ridiculousness! They were commanded to obey the laws of the land, to remember who was in control, to pray for the leaders of the land, to watch for the Lord’s return, and to pray without ceasing.
Today, we have many who are not only self-acclaimed evangelicals, but even claim that they believe in the sovereign hand of God. They then turn around and think that the entire picture puzzle rests upon their feeble shoulders of clay. They declare that God is in control, but refuse to believe Psalm 2 that reminds us that God sits in the heavens and LAUGHS at the wicked. The wicked say, “Let us break their bands asunder” but God holds them in derision.
Today, our churches rarely pray and are certainly not watching and hoping for the return of the Lord. Our churches are more concerned about keeping the peace between rival factions in the congregation instead of saying, “Thus says the Lord…the wicked shall not prosper!”
In the meantime, having cast aside the belief in the sovereignty of God, we have become more and more pragmatic in our belief system. We justify the killing of only one baby a day because “maybe God will take this candidate out of the picture after he becomes president so that we can be blessed with the second person in charge” and America will truly become a Christian nation again. Our pastors and churches have accepted the handouts of the government and thus have been lulled into silence for the sake of a few dollars saved on church supplies at the local office supply store.
I would be a fool to encourage our readers to follow their heart. Your heart and mine cannot be trusted. Jeremiah 17:9 makes this very clear, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Both candidates are simply two sides of the same coin. They both endorse the murder of helpless babies and support the abomination of the homosexual movement. Evil is still evil and will always be evil. Please spare me the details of how “a vote thrown away is a vote for ______” or “if you don’t vote, you are not obeying your civic duty and thus in sin!”
No, no, no, and NO!!!!!!
I want to hear more pastors, Bible teachers, and evangelists crying out to God like Nehemiah to forgive their sins, the sins of their homes, and the sins of this nation. I want to hear more who will be willing, even as a top official, to pray for what is right and true, even if it means that you get thrown to the lions. I want to hear more cry for mercy for the tragedy that has befallen this nation, and plead to God asking, “How long, O Lord, will the wicked prosper?”
The truth is that if those who claimed the name of Christ were willing to cease being pragmatic in their approach to life and realize that the Scriptures are good for all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), then we would become a voice crying in the wilderness, “Make straight your paths for the King is coming.”
With all the arguments that have been bandied about as to who we should or should not vote for, I am truly appalled at the lack of integrity that is seen in every quarter. I am appalled at the emotions that are in play instead of the Scriptures. I am appalled at the reality that many who say they love the Lord and believe He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords live as though the rise and fall of America depends on them casting a vote for the lesser of two evils!
I have no right to tell you to vote for either candidate. Americans, by the law of the land, have been given the liberty and the choice to make as to what they will do in this election and every election after this.
Those who claim the name of Christ though have a much higher calling. We are not called to obey our emotions. We are not called to vote with our pocketbooks. We are called to be ambassadors of the King of Kings, and I have to wonder how many in the world look on us with disdain because we have fallen hard and fast away from the truths we claim to hold dear.
As a true believer in the sovereignty of God and the dictates of Scripture, I personally cannot and will not vote for either candidate. I will not violate my conscience in order to pacify my emotions. Finally, I choose not to vote ultimately because to do so means that I must practice situational ethics in order to justify either choice.
Like Joshua of old said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” We will wake up on November 6th giving thanks that we are one day closer to the return of the Lord. We will be able to sleep well at night knowing that we did not approve of one single candidate who stands daily to mock the Most High God. We will wake up knowing that no matter who will be the next president that our God still reigns and He ALONE puts up one and puts down another.
He alone can make our next Nebuchadnezzar to eat grass like a cow until he lifts up his eyes and praises the Most High God, and He alone can choose to feed the next Herod literally to the worms!
In conclusion, our readers have choices to make as well. My prayer is that each of you will pray about how you can make the right decisions that are in line with the Word of God. There should be and can be no other rule by which you decide your paths. Ultimately, we will each give account before God for the decision we choose to make, but we will not have the liberty to say that we loved what God hates because it was the better of all the other options.
There are certain denominations that don’t believe in the eternal conscious torment of the sinner, even among professing evangelical circles. I will deal with this in future articles, but they often bring up the inequality of punishment that Christ receives as a substitution for sinners. Someone like me who believes that hell is eternal conscious torment is often accused of not seeing the cross in just terms because Christ didn’t suffer eternally. There are some opponents who are inevitably annihilationist that will admit, however, that Jesus also was not annihilated. So in either case, Jesus’ punishment does not equally demonstrate the punishment of the wicked. Yet some within this camp further affirm that Jesus dying was the punishment. In other words, because Jesus died, that is how He was able to equally take our punishment because we die. And He rose again, defeating death on our behalf so that the righteous can have immortality. In essence, the moment that Jesus died is when Jesus took the punishment and only in dying, therefore, can we justly say He took our place, since death is the punishment.
While I do not holistically disagree with the conclusion, I also do not fully agree with the premise. Jesus’ experienced God’s wrath for us on the cross. The punishment was not solely death, but suffering God’s wrath because sin was laid upon Him. Death is the result of sin, and Jesus should have died long before He hung on that cross because of the way He was beaten. But because He was sinless, and had not yet had sin placed upon Him (which was a picture of the day of atonement), the body He had was not yet ready to die. It was only after sin was laid upon Him, and God’s wrath poured upon Him that He could cry, “It is finished!” This is penal substitution which some who reject eternal conscious torment love to also subtly (and boldly) deny. They also do this by not explicitly affirming it with plain speech. They rather affirm some type of substitution, but not penal substitution. But I digress. The point is how do we reconcile the fact that Jesus was able to endure sufficiently and efficaciously God’s wrath that He will forever pour out on sinners? If the annihilationist position is true, why would Jesus have to experience the Father’s wrath if the punishment is truly realized in His death as some teach?
These are questions that seem weighty, but can be answered easily. Let’s make this plain. Jesus did not suffer punishment the same way that we will suffer punishment. Whether you believe annihilationism (in any form) or eternal conscious torment, one truth about Christ’s atonement will remain the same. Jesus suffered more for sinners than any sinner will ever suffer for their own sin. Why? Because of who He was! Listen, we are not just talking about a regular Joe Schmoe. We are talking about the precious Lamb of God! God of very God. The Holiest of Holies. The High and Mighty Son. The Prince of Peace. He humbled Himself, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was ridiculed, mocked, and beaten by His own creation who He could have crushed like grasshoppers. Yet, He endured suffering in obedience to the Father to fulfill all that was written concerning Him. In one sense, He did not need to hang for hours. He didn’t need to continue bearing with the mocking and jeering that He did on behalf of sinners. But He chose to. And whether God chose to do it with a paper cut, or He chose to do with all of His eternal might, because of who Jesus was, just one tiny drop of blood spilled from an open wound inflicted upon Him would have been sufficient to save infinite legions of depraved sinners. But because dying is a part of the punishment, He could have just had His throat slit like the lambs of the Old Testament. He could have had a swifter execution. But instead He chose one of the most excruciating and humiliating ways to die. And endured God’s wrath as He bore it all!
I pray you don’t miss this. The punishment of Jesus will never match the punishment we receive because Jesus should not have been punished. If it were not for the grace of God, the punishment of Jesus would never have happened. If it were not for the justice of God, the punishment of Jesus would not be necessary. So in one sense, I agree with those who are opponents of eternal conscious torment that the punishment on Jesus doesn’t seem fair and equal. Because it wasn’t! What’s fair is that >>>> I <<<< should have been slaughtered! I should have experienced God’s wrath for all eternity without mercy and grace. Jesus enduring even a millisecond of God’s wrath on my behalf and in my place is infinitely more grace than I will EVER deserve. So when I hear from certain circles concerning their rejection of penal substitution and eternal conscious torment on how it seems cruel, I agree. Jesus should have wiped us all out! It’s seems cruel that it took the matchless, priceless, and spotless God-Man in order for wicked and depraved sinners like us to be free. That Jesus, in His willingness and obedience, stepped into time, clothed Himself in sinless flesh, and subjected Himself to something worse than an everyday criminal’s death. It was one of the most tortuously notorious executions invented by man. A punishment reserved for the worse of the worst. Yet He suffered more than just a criminal’s death so that criminals like me can be saved. Why would He do such a thing?! It is more than cruel, it should not have happened! God would have been perfectly justified in giving us what we deserve, and never thinking twice about it. And in light of what the Father did to Jesus, eternal conscious punishment in Hell seems like an act of mercy in comparison to what Jesus endured for us. But the Triune God, by His mercy and grace, had an eternally bigger plan to save sinners from their sin, and to separate a people unto Himself, so that they can enjoy the greatest blessing ever to receive –Himself.
Jesus was more than a substitute. He was THE Surpassing Substitute. He was more than what you could expect a substitute to ever be. Sacrifices in the Old Testament typified substitution, but Jesus outshines them all! But Jesus wasn’t just a substitute, He was THE Perfect Penal Substitute. He didn’t just suffer a little of God’s wrath, but endured as much as was necessary to appease and satisfy His justice as a propitiation for our sins. And this was still infinitely more than He deserved. He endure more suffering, more pain, more sorrow, more agony not because of how long He was on the cross, but because He was on the cross! I cannot stress this enough.
Jesus is more valuable and more beautiful than any being in the universe because He was God. He gave Himself for our sins. The punishment was not exactly what we should have received in its duration. But it was way more than we’ll ever experience, because He was innocent. This finite duration of punishment was of infinite value. If we can grasp this, when we look at Jesus on the cross, we should no longer wonder how He could sufficiently endure God’s eternal wrath in such a finite amount of time, but wonder why He was on the cross in the first place. We should no longer ponder how does the punishment match the crime, but the fact that He had to be punished in the first place. We should be more offended at Christ having to take such a punishment than the eternal conscious torment of the wicked. Because if we value Jesus as He should be valued, it should be no surprise that God would eternally pour out His wrath on those that choose their sin over Him.
Jesus’ punishment is by far a greater offense than sinners suffering in Hell forever (although paradoxically, it is a glorious grace because of Him who regenerated me because of it). I am more humbled and broken about my sin when I see the Lamb of God crushed by the Father, than by millions of souls weeping and gnashing in Hell. Jesus shouldn’t have suffered and died on that cross. But praise God He did. For it was the only way I would see Jesus as preciously and magnificently as I do today (and it grows daily). And even still, this article falls miserably short in comparison to the glory and majesty of who He is and what He has accomplished for those of us who have repented and believed His glorious gospel.
One final word. While I get what people say when they sing or read that “it should have been us upon that cross,” I can no longer say that this is fully the case for me. I don’t seek to undo thousands of pages that say something to this effect, because, for the most part, I don’t disagree. I should have experienced my punishment for my own sin. And it is from this sentiment that this understanding springs forth. So when people say this, I don’t fret. But I have recently come to appreciate the crucifixion of Christ in a way that has become exceptionally humbling for me, and I sought to share it with all. I pray that this article brings you to the same place it has brought me. To a place of deeper reverence, worship, obedience, and understanding concerning what Jesus accomplished on our behalf.
-Until we go home
The warning of Scripture is clear. Oh friends, as Steve Lawson notes, if you are not a true believer in Jesus Christ alone, by grace through faith alone, you will wish you had never been born – just one second after death. No true Christian would ever desire the destruction of their lost friends, family or neighbors. This is why we seek to passionately deliver the truth of God’s Word before it is eternally too late! Hear Christ call and run to Him for mercy!
The video you are about to see is Todd Friel of Wretched Radio speaking to a group of atheist students, among others, at a college. It is part of a video titled “Wretched Worldview: Atheism – A Christian Response.” Todd gives a wonderful picture of the gospel in this video as he pleads with the atheists in the auditorium to repent and trust in Jesus Christ. I ask you to watch this and observe how we as Christians can compassionately and lovingly share the gospel with anyone.
Last week, a terrible tragedy struck in two homes just a stone’s throw from my own house. As of the writing of this article, one man is currently in custody on nineteen criminal charges, including the murder of five people. When I first heard of this terrible crime, my first thought, in fact my overriding thought the entire week, has been for the safety of my family. While that is a right and good thing to be concerned for, I have to confess, I have given little thought to the soul of the man who committed the murders. I have given thought to his crime, to the court system that will soon try and likely convict him, and the to application of justice against one who would harm innocent victims in this manner. Yet, at a time like this, I believe it is right that, as Christians, we should very concerned about the judgment of God which rests on the soul of this man.
A similar tragedy occurred less than two years ago in another city near my home when a man entered a restaurant and opened fire. Several people were hurt and killed, including three National Guard soldiers. In the wake of that tragedy, a man had responded to an online news article by stating he hoped the murderer would never be forgiven by God and would forever burn in hell. The anger in that statement shook me to the core. It is right for us to feel a righteous anger at the unjust murder of any person. But for someone to wish the eternal, conscious torment of Hell on a person startled me. I believe the author of that comment did not understand his own sinfulness and the necessity of God’s justice to be applied against himself one day. Had he understood the righteousness and holiness of God, he would have seen his own anger and hatred for what it was, a sin against the God who he wished would cause the murder to be eternally condemned. I wrote my thoughts on that tragedy then, asking those who profess Christ as Lord to consider our reactions to such terrible crimes and to pray for those who commit them.
I want to be careful not to simply repeat what I wrote then; however, certain themes and principles bear repetition. When I heard of the horrendous nature of this crime, I could not help but feel anger at the loss of life and pouring of such evil near my home. Yet, according the word of God, all of us are wicked in the eyes of God. Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Every person in this world possesses a heart of wickedness, born under the curse of the original sin of our federal representative, Adam. When he rebelled against God in the garden, all of Adam’s descendants were forever tainted with sin. Thus, all that we can conceive of and do is affected by our self serving, sinful nature. Nothing we can do of ourselves will ever be “good.”
In fact, the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3: 9-18:
“What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.
The venom of asps is under their lips.
Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Quoting from the Psalms, Paul makes the case that there is nothing about us that is good in the eyes of God. Even when we claim we believe in God and are trying to obey Him, Paul makes it clear that none of us actually are seeking after the true God. Because of our sin nature, we in fact create idolatrous versions of God. We seek to worship a god of our own creation, one who either will not take our sin seriously, or one which will allow us to do some sort of work to personally make up for it. Neither is the true God, but is in fact a god of self. We are worshiping our own perceived innate goodness, thus proving we are the very wicked sinners who Paul is writing about. Outside the regenerative work of Jesus Christ, we cannot truly seek after and worship God. Therefore, we will pursue the wicked desires of our own heart while professing our own self righteousness along the way.
Matthew 5:21-22 records the words of Jesus who said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Chris Himself declared that a person who harbors anger and insults another person will be judged the same as one who commits murder. In other words, whenever you have been angry at or felt hatred for another human being, God has seen you as wicked a sinner as the man who killed five people in my town. That is applicable to each and every one of us, myself included. That should terrify us. When I am horrified that my neighborhood was rocked by such evil, I should also remember that, in the eyes of God, I am as terrible a sinner as the one who committed the evil. God judges the thoughts and intents of the heart, not just the actions.
This brings me back to my original statement. When I thought of the tragedy committed by this man, I gave no thought to his eternal state before the Lord. I focused solely on the crime and the danger to my family. As a Christian, I know that I have sinned in the areas of anger and hatred. Yet, God in His mercy has forgiven me through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I rightly deserve His wrath, but Christ took the righteous judgment of God upon Himself for me at the cross. He suffered and died for the sins of my heart. He was buried, yet rose again, defeating death and granting me eternal life. If I know that I was deserving of such condemnation, but was forgiven, then I must desire to see even the most vile and wicked murderer to receive the precious gift of the gospel.
Does this mean that I should not be concerned about the terrible events in my neighborhood, and shouldn’t bother taking steps to protect my family. Certainly not. Knowing that I live in the midst of a wicked and perverse people, wisdom dictates that I be aware of the dangers that surround us and take to the proper steps to keep my family from harm. But I must also desire to bring the precious gospel to that same wicked and perverse people. I was a wicked sinner just as they were, yet I was saved by the blood of Christ. If I ever believe that somehow the crimes of someone are beyond the saving grace of Jesus, or that, because that criminal was so vicious, I simply could never share the gospel with them, then I prove myself an even greater sinner than the murderer. I write this to encourage my brethren to look at the tragedies that surround you in light of the gospel. Certainly, we can feel fear, sadness and even righteous anger. But never let us see ourselves as better than those who committed these crimes. Let us pray for them and even go to great lengths to bring the life saving gospel to their perishing souls.
“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. – Psalm 100”
As we begin this day of Thanksgiving, as we prepare meals for our friends and loved ones, as we speak of how thankful we are for the things, events and people in our lives, let us not forget to give thanks to God. Let us praise His holy name as our Creator and Sustainer. Let us be thankful for His giving us life and breath, for even allowing the very molecules that make us up to be held together. Let us praise God as the eternal Lawgiver and Judge. May we thank Him for being the very definition of righteousness, for instilling in us the conscience which holds us accountable before Him. And may we thank Him for His justice, that no deed done in darkness will ever go unpunished.
As we enjoy this Thanksgiving day, let us proclaim the goodness of God and His sovereignty. That God is in complete control of all circumstances, good and bad, righteous and evil, and is using them according to His good purposes and for His glory. May we bow in humble adoration that, in that sovereignty, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, to take on humanity, live a life of moral perfection in thought, word and deed, and to die a propitiatory death on the cross so that sinners might be saved. May we thank God that, despite there being no good thing in us, He reached down out of eternity, regenerated our hearts through the preaching of the gospel, and caused us to repent and place our faith in the Savior. May we thank God alone for giving us a new birth and making us a new creation.
As we speak to others about this Thanksgiving holiday, let us proclaim to them the true source of our thanks. May we share with them the glorious gospel of grace so that they too may repent and trust in Christ and that they may give thanks to God alone for their salvation. May we give them real reason to be thankful.
On this day of November 22, 2012, we the writers of Defending Contending wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and ask you to thank the Lord for all He has done for you and to praise His holy name.
In honor of Reformation Day, we share a scene from “Luther”, Martin Luther’s famous speech in the Diet of Worms. Give glory to God for those godly men who have stood up throughout history to preach the true gospel.
Yesterday, a terrible tragedy struck Northern Nevada. Many of you have probably seen the news about a man who fired on several people, ultimately killing four of them, before taking his own life. Five of the people who were shot were Nevada Army National Guardsman, three of which died. Many find themselves utterly dumbfounded by this evil act. Of course, compounding the issue is that, with the death of the shooter, we may never know why he did it. There is a tremendous sadness, and even anger over this tragedy. In fact, one commenter on a news website summed his anger toward the shooter by stating, “I hope God doesn’t show you mercy. I hope you rot in Hell.”
I have found myself thinking about that phrase over the last twenty-four hours. What should we think of someone who has committed such an atrociously evil act? Should we truly desire for someone to “rot in hell?” Should we really desire that God never show that person mercy? Ultimately, I believe the answer is no.
Why should I make such a statement? Isn’t God just? Doesn’t He say that He will punish evil? Yes, God is just, and yes, He does punish evil. In fact, I think we should be grateful that God will punish the great evils committed in this world, that no deed done in darkness will escape His sight. But I also believe that very same justice should make us fear and tremble.
You must understand that there is only one door to salvation, and that is Christ; there is one way, and that is Christ; one truth, and that is Christ; one life, and that is Christ. Salvation lies in Jesus only; it does not lie in you, in your doings, or your feelings, or your knowings, or your resolutions. In Him all life and light for the sons of men are stored up by the mercy of God the Father. This may be one reason why you have not found the light; because you have sought it in the wrong place. Though the Lord has placed it on record in His Word, in the plainest language, that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:16) yet most men in their hearts imagine that everlasting life is tied to duties and earned by service. You must abandon such vainglorious notions; you must come before God as a humble petitioner, pleading the promises of mercy, abhorring all idea of merit, confessing that if the Lord condemns you He has a right to do it, and if He saves you, it will be an act of pure gratuitous mercy, a deed of sovereign grace. Oh, too many of you hold your heads too high; to enter the lowly gate of light you must stoop. On the bended knee is the penitent’s true place. “God be merciful to me, a sinner’, is the penitent’s true place. If God should condemn you, you could never complain of injustice, for you could not accuse the Lord, for you have no right to be heard. He could righteously withhold an answer of peace if He so willed.
Confess that you are an undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving sinner and begin to pray as you have never prayed before. Cry out of the depth of self-abasement if you want to be heard. Come as a beggar, not as a creditor. Come to crave, not to demand. Use only this argument, “Lord, hear me, for you are gracious, and Jesus died; I cry to you as a condemned criminal. who seeks pardon. Deliver me from going down into the pit, that I may praise your name.” This harboring of a proud spirit, I fear, has been a great source of mischief with many, and if it has been so with you, amend it and go now with humble and contrite hearts, in lowliness and brokenness of spirit, to your Father whom you have offended, for he will surely accept you as his children. Your salvation does not depend upon what you do, but upon what Christ did when he offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin. All your salvation takes root in the death throes of Calvary; the great Substitute bore your sin and suffered its penalty. Your sin shall never destroy you if upon that bloody tree the Lord’s chosen High Priest made a full expiation for your sins; they shall not be laid against you any more forever. What you have to do is simply accept what Jesus has finished. I know your idea is that you are to bring something to him; but that vainglorious idea has ruined many, and will ruin many more. When you are brought empty-handed, made willing to accept a free and full salvation from the hand of the Crucified, then, and then only, will you will be saved.
“For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among the nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” – Amos 9:9
Every sifting comes by divine command and permission. Satan must ask leave before he can lay a finger upon Job. Nay, more, in some sense our siftings are directly the work of heaven, for the text says, “I will sift the house of Israel”. Satan, like a drudge, may hold the sieve, hoping to destroy the corn; but the overruling hand of the Master is accomplishing the purity of the grain by the very process which the enemy intended to be destructive. Precious, but much sifted corn of the Lord’s floor, be comforted by the blessed fact that the Lord directeth both flail and sieve to His own glory, and to thine eternal profit.
The Lord Jesus will surely use the fan which is in His hand, and will divide the precious from the vile. All are not Israel that are of Israel; the heap on the barn floor is not clean provender, and hence the winnowing process must be performed. In the sieve true weight alone has power. Husks and chaff being devoid of substance must fly before the wind, and only solid corn will remain.
Observe the complete safety of the Lord’s wheat; even the least grain has a promise of preservation. God Himself sifts, and therefore it is stern and terrible work; He sifts them in all places, “among the nations”; He sifts them in the most effectual manner, “like corn is sifted in a sieve”; and yet for all this, not the smallest, lightest, or most shrivelled grain, is permitted to fall to the ground. Every individual believer is precious in the sight of the Lord, a shepherd would not lose one sheep, nor a jeweller one diamond, nor a mother one child, nor a man one limb of his body, nor will the Lord lose one of His redeemed people. However little we may be, if we are the Lord’s, we may rejoice that we are preserved in Christ Jesus.
– Charles Spurgeon
1834 – 1892
“He humbled Himself.” – Philippians 2:8
Jesus is the great teacher of lowliness of heart. We need daily to learn of Him. See the Master taking a towel and washing His disciples’ feet! Follower of Christ, wilt thou not humble thyself? See Him as the Servant of servants, and surely thou canst not be proud! Is not this sentence the compendium of His biography, “He humbled Himself”? Was He not on earth always stripping off first one robe of honor and then another, till, naked He was fastened to the cross, and there did He not empty out His inmost self, pouring out His life-blood, giving up for all of us, till they laid Him penniless in a borrowed grave? How low was our dear Redeemer brought! How then can we be proud? Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with encrimsoned rills; see hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and His whole self to mockery and scorn; see the bitterness, and the pangs, and the throes of inward grief, showing themselves in His outward frame; hear the thrilling shriek, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it; if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him. You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten. Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you, bow yourself in lowliness at His feet. A sense of Christ’s amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt. May the Lord bring us in contemplation to Calvary, then our position will no longer be that of the pompous man of pride, but we shall take the humble place of one who loves much because much has been forgiven him. Pride cannot live beneath the cross. Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice.
– Charles Spurgeon
1834 – 1892
God’s electing a certain definite number is a manifestation of His glory. It shows the glory of His divine sovereignty. God is declaring His absolute sovereignty over His creation. He is showing us just how far that sovereignty extends. In purposely choosing some and passing on others, He shows that His majesty and power are unparalleled. Those who do not see glory and dominion in election simply do not understand God. They are not aware of His greatness, and do not understand grace. Grace is defined in election. God chose His people to happiness and glory long before they were born. He chose them out of the mass of fallen mankind. He loved them before they knew Him. He chose them when they did not deserve to be chosen. That is grace! The doctrine of election shows that if those who received God’s grace had earnestly sought it, it was God’s grace that caused them to seek it. It shows that even their faith itself is the gift of God, and their persevering in a way of holiness unto glory is also the fruit of electing love. Believer’s love of God is the fruit of and because of God’s love to them. The giving of Christ, the preaching of the gospel, and the appointing of ordinances are all fruits of the grace of election. All the grace that is shown to mankind, either in this world or in the world to come, is comprised of the electing love of God.
– Jonathan Edwards
1703 – 1758