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Archive for the ‘Gospel’ Category

Good-Friday_ss_267935090

Good Friday is the day the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died by means of crucifixion on a cross – a vicious, brutal, horrific way to die. So why do we call it “good” Friday?

Listen to the prophet Isaiah:

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
and our sorrows He carried;
yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
and by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
to fall on Him” (Isa. 53:4-6).

The apostle Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

The apostle Peter wrote: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:21-24). 

Good Friday is good because Jesus died a death I should have died. He died as a substitutionary sacrifice for my sins, and the sins of all of His people. If that wasn’t enough, He lived a life of perfect obedience to His Father in my place. Good Friday is good because of what He accomplished, and we can rejoice in that.

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psalm-130-34-Who-Can-Stand1

Psalm 130 is one of the songs the people of Israel would sing as they went up to Jerusalem to worship God in the three required festivals. Verses 3 and 4 say, If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You,
that You may be feared.”

When I read these two verses, I see…

God is absolutely holy. The Lord does indeed mark iniquities – He keeps an account of our sins. He is the only One who can both judge and remain standing. Why? He has no iniquities to mark. His holiness is absolute and perfect.

I am sinful. I know my sin and my sinfulness, saying with the apostle Paul that I am the chief of sinners. In the face of His absolute holiness, I know I cannot remain standing – only He can. No one will be able to survive the penetrating gaze of God’s perfect knowledge and judgment.

God forgives. By His sheer mercy and grace, God sovereignly chooses to forgive. He’s under no obligation to do so, but as the psalmist says, “there is forgiveness with You.” The foundation of God’s forgiveness, and what makes it possible, is the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. He stood in our place and was judged for our sins and iniquities on the cross. Through faith in Christ alone, I know that my sins are forgiven.

God is to be feared. I know that the Lord’s forgiveness of my sins – which I do not deserve – should drive me to deeper reverence, greater awe, and a more holy dread of God. This is the holy One who lives in unapproachable light and who is more pure than I will ever comprehend, yet on the basis of Christ’s work on my behalf, forgives all of my iniquity! This is the One who is to be loved and feared!

That’s a beautiful song to sing.

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images

In the process of looking through a box of papers (I was trying to fond something to use in one of my classes), I ran across an article by Wayne Mack called “The Bible’s Answer to the Question: “What is A Christian?”

In short, here is his answer:

  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has become and is becoming increasingly aware of his own unworthiness in the sight of God.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh and the only Savior and substitute of sinners.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mack’s use of Scripture in answering the question is especially important. If we were to ask ten people “What is a Christian?”, we’d most likely get five or six different answers, he says. The only answer that ultimately matters is God’s, and we find it in His Word.

So, using the Bible’s definition, are you a Christian?

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gospel

Burk Parsons, Senior Pastor of St. Andrews Chapel and a Teaching Fellow at Ligonier Ministries, wrote this about the gospel:

The nineteenth-century Princeton theologian Charles Hodge said, “The gospel is so simple that small children can understand it, and it is so profound that studies by the wisest theologians will never exhaust its riches.” The gospel is absolutely fundamental to everything we believe, and it is at the very core of who we are as Christians. However, many professing Christians struggle to answer the simple question: What is the gospel? When I teach, I am astounded by how many of my students are unable to provide a biblically accurate explanation of what the gospel is, and, what’s more, what the gospel is not. If we don’t know what the gospel is, we are of all people the most to be pitied. For, if we can’t explain the gospel, then we can’t proclaim the gospel in evangelism so that sinners might be saved, and we in fact may not be saved ourselves. In our day, there are countless counterfeit gospels, both inside and outside the church. Much of what is on Christian television and on the shelves of Christian bookstores completely obscures the gospel, thereby making it another gospel, which is no gospel at all. Since Satan cannot destroy the gospel, as J.C. Ryle wrote, “he has too often neutralized its usefulness by addition, subtraction, or substitution.” It is vital we understand that just because a preacher talks about Jesus, the cross, and heaven, that does not mean he is preaching the gospel. And just because there is a church building on every corner does not mean the gospel is preached on every corner.

Fundamentally, the gospel is news. It’s good news—the good news about what our triune God has graciously accomplished for His people: The Father’s sending the Son, Jesus Christ, God incarnate, to live perfectly, fulfill the law, and die sacrificially, atoning for our sins, satisfying God’s wrath against us that we might not face an eternal hell, and raising Him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the victorious announcement that God saves sinners. And even though the call of Jesus to “take up your cross and follow me,” “repent and believe,” “deny yourself,” and “keep my commandments” are necessary commands that directly follow the proclamation of the gospel, they are not in themselves the good news of what Jesus has accomplished. The gospel is not a summons to work harder to reach God— it’s the grand message of how God worked all things together for good to reach us. The gospel is good news, not good advice, just as J. Gresham Machen wrote: “What I need first of all is not exhortation, but a gospel, not directions for saving myself but knowledge of how God has saved me. Have you any good news? That is the question that I ask of you.”

(Table talk, January 1, 1989)

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conscience

This morning I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Joel Lundy preach on Romans 2:14-16. God has given every human being a conscience, which we should use as a basis for proclaiming the gospel to everyone.

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Open-my-eyes

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18).

The psalmist asks God to open His eyes (which only He can) so that he might see the wonderful, or wondrous, things that are contained within His law.

For those with eyes whom God has graciously and sovereignly opened, we see His power, sovereignty, holiness, mercy,  justice, and goodness to name just a few. We hear His promises and see them fulfilled. All of them are wonderful and wondrous.

But it’s possible that the most wonderful thing we behold – not spelled out specifically in chapter and verse, but clearly taught by the whole of Scripture – is the truth of God’s covenant with man.

  1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary on condescension on God’s part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant.
  2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and to him in his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.
  3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

(Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 7, paragraphs 1-3)

One of the most wondrous things in God’s Word is His gracious condescension to save a people for Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, and He does that by means of His covenant. We don’t deserve it. We haven’t, and could never, earn it through our own efforts. We deserve the opposite of what God gives. Praise God for His grace!

May God open our eyes that we might see His covenants – a wondrous thing!

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sdg

Last night and this morning, I had the privilege of preaching on Psalm 115. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The God-centered life is characterized by giving glory to God alone. On a side-note, I used Power Point for the very first time!

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