Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Glory to God

Persistence in Prayer

I fear that we who truly love Jesus and desire to glorify Him have allowed the devil to rob us of the potential we have in prayer by giving us fear of creeping into error.  For example, we have so feared the Word-Faith movement that we are scared to talk about faith or to talk about faith in prayer.  We hear someone talk about faith and we think instantly about the errors of the Word-Faith movement and we no longer want to hear about faith.

This same error has come over in our understanding of prayer.  We have allowed the errors of the Word-Faith movement to rob us of true praying.  Instead, prayer has become a vein ritual we perform (or not).  We fear asking God even though the Word calls us to ask (Matthew 7:7; James 4:2-3).  We fear that asking means that we are moving toward the errors of the Word-Faith movement.  When we do pray we don’t pray in faith (Mark 11:22-24) trusting that our Father is able to do what we cannot.  We also don’t pray for marvelous things (such as healings) because we fear that we are moving beyond the Word of God into error.

As I was reading from Luke 11, I again noticed the words of Jesus in verse 8:

I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

Notice that Jesus says that we are to pray with impudence.  Other translations use “persistence” (NASB; NIV).  The King James Version uses “importunity” which is a rich word.  The Greek word is “Anaideia” which means “without shame.”  It means to be reckless or disregard of consideration by the one making the request (from the Key Word Study Bible).  The word for “ask” in Luke 11:9 has a focus on a beggar asking for alms (see Matthew 6:2) and not demanding something.  As children of God, we have access through Christ Jesus our Lord to come boldly before the Father in prayer (Hebrews 4:16).  We depend on the grace of God to help us to pray and like beggars, we come before our Father trusting in Him and not demanding something of God but trusting in Him to provide and meet our needs and to glorify His name (1 John 5:14-15).

There is something then to be said about praying to the Father and trusting God for mighty things.  I have no fear in praying for healings, for Him to save lost sinners, for Him to glorify His name, for His kingdom to come.  I find myself praying Psalm 110:1 often for the nations.  I find myself praying for God to grant me faith to pray for mighty things and trust Him in mighty ways.  This is not some Word-Faith praying but this is biblical praying.  Let’s take back what the devil stole from us.  We have faith.  We have authority in the name of Jesus.  We have the right to come into the presence of the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14).  If prayer is just a religious ritual we perform, why do we read the words of Paul the Apostle in Philippians 4:6-7?  Read Philippians 4:6-7:

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Notice Paul wrote “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” then we can “let your requests be made known to God.”  As we pray in faith, trusting in our Father in heaven, Paul says in verse 7 that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

That is power!

As a child of God, I can ask, receive and knock (Luke 11:9-10).  If earthly fathers, being evil, give good gifts to their children (Luke 11:11-13) what about our holy Father in heaven?  If earthly dads give because their children ask then what about the Father in heaven?  The Father loves His beloved and He will give to His children what is good and what is holy.

In conclusion, Jesus was a mighty prayer warrior (Luke 11:1).  I have no doubt that Jesus performed miracles because He was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:1, 14) but I also know that He trusted in His Father (Acts 10:38).  Notice that right after this, Jesus performed mighty miracles (Luke 11:14).  Is there a link between Jesus praying to His Father and the mighty miracles He performed?  I think so.  Again, I grant that Jesus was God but He prayed to His Father and His Father worked through Him for His glory.  The Father heard the prayers of the Son (Hebrews 5:7-10).  Will He not hear our prayers through the Son?

My prayer is that the Lord will teach me how to pray.  I have prayed Luke 11:1 many times.  I want the Master to teach me to pray.  I am grateful for the example that Jesus left me about prayer but I want to pray myself to the Father in Jesus’ name for His glory and honor.  I pray that the Father not only meet my needs but that He would be exalted by answering my prayers that are focused on His glory.  I want to pray mighty prayers that exalt Jesus Christ who prays for me before the throne of God (Hebrews 7:25).

I say that we take back true faith.  I say we take back praying bold prayers.  I say we take back praying with persistence.  I say that we take back praying for healings and truly believing God to do the impossible (Luke 1:37).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/06/2015 at 10:00 AM

Being Careful With the Love of God

The love of God is a biblical truth.  I adore the God of the Bible because He has revealed Himself as loving and good.  Psalm 145:8 says that God is abounding in steadfast love.  1 John 4:8 says that God is love.  Some believe that love is an attribute of God.  However, I agree with others such as A.W. Tower who said that love flows from God and is part of His personage.  Love then is not an attribute of God but is freely given by Him toward His creation.  Truth is said to be a part of God but we would not say that truth is an attribute of God nor should we say this about God’s love.  God loves because He chooses to love.  God has demonstrated His love toward us sinners by the giving of His Son (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

I do think that we can make too much about the love of God.  Of course, I rejoice that God is love.  I rejoice that God has sent His Son to die for our sins and to rise again on the third day where the Son now sits at the Father’s right hand till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I rejoice that the Christian message is one of love as we point to the cross as the greatest example of true love (Galatians 2:20).  I rejoice that God has revealed His great love for us sinners (1 John 4:10).  This love should flow from God into our lives and we in turn are to love others (1 John 4:11).  Jesus said that loving others was the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39).  Jesus said that His disciples would be marked by loving others (John 13:34-35).  He told His disciples in Matthew 5:43-48 that we were to be perfect in love as our Father is.  John Wesley defined this love as “perfected love that flows from the God of love.”  Wesley said that this type of love can only be found in the grace of God and His Spirit working within us to perfect this love.  Perfect in love then was Wesley’s preferred term for entire sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

The love of God drips from the pages of the Bible.  We see God’s love demonstrated toward Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:14-15, 21).   We see God’s love in the calling out of the Israelites from Egypt into the promised land.  God Himself even says that it was His love that motivated Him to choose Israel and not because of the Israelites themselves (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).  It was the love of God that called the prophets in the Old Testament to call His people to repentance (see Hosea as an example).  It was the love of God that motivated Him to promise the Messiah and then to send His one and only Son to earth (Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1, 14, 17).  Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14) and He fully revealed God to us (John 14:9).  Jesus never said He was the Father nor did He say He was the Spirit but instead He fully revealed the fullness of God to us (Colossians 2:9).  Jesus is the exact representation of God (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:3).  What do we see when we see Jesus?  We see Him “doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38).  We see Jesus coming not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).  We see Jesus coming to call sinners to repentance (Luke 19:10).  We see Jesus telling the Pharisees that God goes looking for the one sheep out of the ninety-nine who turns and is lost (Luke 15:1-7).

There is no doubt that God is love.  There is no doubt that Jesus has revealed the love of God.  There is no doubt that Jesus shows us that God is good and that He desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:5-6; 2 Peter 3:9).  There is no doubt that the love of God flows throughout the Bible.

But I do want to place a warning.  Just a fire across the bow if you will.  Again, I am one of those who gladly preaches the love of God.  I gladly preach Arminianism because I see that the love of God is limited in Calvinism.  In fact, I don’t see a loving God when I study Calvinism but instead I see the overwhelming issue being either the sovereignty of God (in this case the all-power of God in Calvinism) or the glory of God (wherein God must determine all things lest He share His glory).  The love of God is seen as a part of God’s sovereignty either in choosing the elect by arbitrary means rather than love but in some form of love nonetheless or the love of God is seen as part of His glory.  Calvinism diminishes the love of God by failing to proclaim the truth of the unlimited atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Oh yes, His atonement is infinite in value and could atone for the sins of the world but instead the sovereign God has chosen that He will place His love only on the elect.  To me, this doesn’t match either the biblical view of God as loving and good nor does it fit with the parables of Jesus such as found in Luke 10:25-37.

Let me fire this shot though across the bow.  This is a friendly shot to us Arminians.  I do believe in the love of God but let us not exalt the love of God above other truths about God.  For example, God’s wrath or God’s justice or His holiness.  The open theist, in my estimation and I know I have some brothers and sisters who read this blog who are open theists, elevate the love of God above all other truth about God.  The same might could be said about the conditional immortality holders (whom I likewise regard as brethren in the kingdom).  Others want to lift up the transcendence of God.  Some want to exalt the power of God (my charismatic brethren might fall here).

My point is that we must seek balance.  There is no doubt that God is love.  There is no doubt also that God is holy.  There is no doubt that God is sovereign.  There is no doubt that God is powerful and He does hear our cries and can demonstrate His power.  Yet we tend to uplift the truth about God that we love the most.  Arminians might be guilty of doing this with God’s love.  Calvinists might be guilty of exalting the sovereignty of God (or actually the omnipotence of God).  I pray that we would simply make sure that when we preach that we don’t make a god in our image.  This is what cults do.  Their gods are figured out but our God is beyond our understanding.  God has revealed Himself in the Bible but not exhaustively.

I pray that we preach to sinners both the love of God (that He has demonstrated His love toward sinners through the cross) and the wrath of God against sin (Romans 1:18).  Both are true.  God loves but God also hates.  God cannot tolerate sin in His presence so let us preach the truth of His holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Let us preach that God desires the sinner to come to repentance but let us also preach that all who reject His love remain under His just wrath (John 3:36).

I rejoice in the love of God, the goodness of God, the grace of God.  I also preach the biblical truths of His holiness, His justice, His sovereignty, His transcendence, His wrath.  May we be balanced in our preaching.

The Need for Revival

It doesn’t take much to look around at the wickedness that abounds and to know that we need revival.  So many don’t care about the Lord nor give thought to Him.  Even as I have preached in the open air that all people will die (Hebrews 9:27), so few take thought of their lives and the fact that we are but vapors (James 4:14).  Every person living today will be dead yet they don’t stop to consider this fact even as people die all around them.  So few take the time to consider their lives and to see that they have violated the law of God and deserve His just punishment against sin (James 2:10-12).  They don’t know what awaits them when they die and they don’t seem to care.

Even worse is the state of the Church.  So many are just showing up for their “Sunday services” and give no thought to God during their week.  They don’t pray.  They don’t share their faith.  They don’t worship the Lord Jesus in all they say and do (Colossians 3:17).  They say they love the Lord Jesus and are thankful for His saving work on the cross but they don’t live their lives reflecting HIs grace nor His love (John 14:21).  They would claim heaven but they don’t live like heaven (Matthew 1:21).  They would say that Jesus saved them from their sins while still living in sin (1 John 3:4-10).  The “preachers” are not preaching the gospel but are often found preaching peace and prosperity in the midst of sin.  These preachers are not preaching repentance nor holiness but are preaching a “happy clappy” message that does not save nor sanctifies its hearers.  Jesus is the offended One in their midst and He is often shunned in favor of being popular (Luke 6:26).  The burden for the lost is largely missing.  Where are the tears for the lost?  Where are the tears for those who have not repented of their sins?  Where are those who will call out to God for the lost (Romans 10:1)?

We also lack the urgency in prayer for the lost.  Where are the intercessors for the lost?  Jesus said in Matthew 9:38 that we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He might send out laborers in His harvest.  Where are those who will do this, who will pray for the workers to work the harvest fields?  Paul the Apostle urged prayer for the lost in 1 Timothy 2:1-7.  Where are those who would obey the words of the Apostle and pray?  We are taught by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:10 to pray for His kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven yet where are those who do this besides those who just repeat the words over and over again without pondering them?  When was the last time you spent hours in prayer just praying for the lost?  Where are the tears for the lost who are bound for hell apart from the grace of God?  Paul the Apostle said he had great sorrow and continual grief in his heart for the lost (Romans 9:2).  Do you?  Do I?

In Ezekiel 9 we read how Ezekiel saw a vision in his time of a man clothed with linen (an angel) and an inkhorn at his side and the Lord told him to go through the midst of the city (Jerusalem).  The Angel of the Lord (the pre-incarnate Christ) goes through the city and makes the people of God.  We read in Ezekiel 9:4 that He did this to those who “sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it” (NKJV).  What a picture!  The elect of God here are those who are within the city of God who are weeping and crying and detest the wickedness that is around them.  These elect do not share in their sins nor do they face the judgment coming (Ezekiel 9:5-7).

I don’t know what the future holds for our wicked world.  I have optimism that  the Lord will send a revival and that many will be saved from the wrath to come.  I pray Psalm 110:1 for the world.  Yet I also know that God is a holy and righteous God who cannot tolerate wickedness.  His grace and mercy are evident around us while people go on sinning.  I believe 1 Peter 4:17.  I believe that the Lord is calling to His faithful to abandon sin, to live lives of holiness (Hebrews 12:14).  I believe the will of the Lord is for His people to be holy people who love Him and worship Him in all we do.  I believe the Lord is gracious to send a heart for repentance to His people.  I pray that I would be one of those as in the time of Ezekiel 9:4 who sigh and cry over all the abominations.  I pray that I don’t join in with the sinning of the world.  I long to be holy and pure.

I am thankful for the goodness of God revealed in Christ Jesus.  I am thankful that Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  I am thankful that Jesus saved me (Galatians 1:4) and that He saves me from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). I am thankful that Jesus is my salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  I rejoice that I am saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not by my works of righteousness (Titus 3:5).  I worship Him who alone is worthy for His intercession for me before the Father (Hebrews 7:25).  This salvation is not by my doing but by His going (Colossians 1:13-14; 2:12-13).

Yet I see the need for revival.  I see the great need for the people of God to pray for revival.  What will turn the lost back to the gospel will not be our creativity but the Lord Himself.  What will stir the hearts of those who sit in the churches but are lost will be the Spirit of God.  I pray that the Holy Spirit moves in power upon His Church and that many sinners will hear the gospel and be saved (Romans 10:17).  Jesus came to save sinners (Luke 10:19) and I pray that He glorified in the saving of sinners.  Jesus can truly save a sinner.  He saved this sinner.  Jesus is still saving this sinner from sin.

Oh join with me in praying for revival!  Join with me in praying for the gospel to transform the saints of God.  Join with me in allowing the Holy Spirit to stir your heart toward revival.  Pray for God to be glorified among His saints and for sinners to hear the gospel and be saved.  Rejoice in the mercy of God that saved us and rejoice that God is merciful toward sinners (2 Peter 3:9).  Rejoice that He is patient with the lost (and the saints) and He wants to call all to repentance.  Pray for the Lord to be praised by His saints without fear and with great boldness even before sinners (Acts 4:29).  Pray for the kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/19/2015 at 1:36 PM

Looking For Ourselves or Christ in Scripture?

We live in a narcissistic age when everything is aimed at us.  Commercials are aimed at us.  Even religion is aimed at us.  The seeker movement and the new “vision casting” movement (along with the now dying emergent movement) is all aimed at us.  The church exist for us.  The church exist to please us.  The church is here to help us.  Even God Himself is being cast now as the One who exists to help us.  God wants our lives to be happy, joyful, fun, full of money and stuff.  We are told that if God had a refrigerator, we would be on it with our selfies.  God created the world for us.  God sent His Son for us.  God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives (or so we are told).

In the midst of this are preachers who preach to this age.  Like those in 2 Timothy 4:3, these teachers teach what this generation wants to hear: that we are special and unique and all.  The seeker churches now cater not just to the lost (unchurched – sorry about that) but now to the selfies folks as well.  The music is aimed to please.  The sermon will not be theological at all and will be so relevant because it is aimed at you.  The prayers will be short and sweet and to the point with their good friend God listening in.  You won’t hear words such as repentance, forsaking sin, holiness, intercession, seeking God, treasuring Christ, the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  You’ll just hear cool, hip preachers who tell story after story about what they do, what they are like, their stories, their humor.  After all, the preacher (while trying to be real to the folks) must also bear the burden of being part of the selfie generation.  So roll out the Nintendo’s and roll out the movie screens and get ready to watch the vision-casting leader promote themselves while trying to connect to the selfies in the crowd.

But what if Scripture is not about us?  What is Scripture is about Jesus instead?  Me just writing those words probably sends chills through the selfies.  The thought that Jesus should be the focus of God or the Bible is something we simply don’t want to hear.  We want to believe that the promises of God are for us.  We want to believe that the Bible is “God’s love letter to us.”  We want to believe that the Bible is written for us and about us.  So no wonder we have preachers preaching from 1 Samuel 17 and finding parallels between David’s fight with Goliath and our own fights with giants (depression, a move, a marriage, etc.).  We have preachers preaching that the resurrection of Jesus was not just about Jesus rising from the dead but our own resurrections as well such as the death of a dream, the death of relationship, or the death of our businesses.  God wants to raise them too just as He did Jesus!

What if all that is wrong?  What is the story of David and Goliath is about, well David?  What if the resurrection of Jesus is not about us per se but about Jesus rising from the dead to the glory of the Father?

Jesus makes a statement in John 5:39-40 that we don’t want to read but need to.  The text says:

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

Notice that Jesus says the Scriptures reveal Him!  One can read the Bible (just as the Pharisees did whom Jesus was address in this text) and miss Jesus!  In this generation, selfie preachers focus on themselves with clever stories about themselves yet they (and their hearers) miss Jesus.  In reality, most seeker preachers these days are not even preaching the Bible anymore but instead are preaching their journey stories.  They are not even trying to pretend to be preaching the gospel.  Gone are the days of the 1990’s when seeker preachers at least mentioned Jesus and perhaps tried to teach a text of Scripture.  Now it just stories about the preacher and props to help the hearers connect with the story.

Yet Jesus said that Scripture is about Himself and not us.

In Luke 24:27 Jesus taught His disciples that Scripture was about Himself.  In Luke 24:44 Jesus even says words that the selfies would not want to hear: that the Scriptures are written about Himself.  John writes that when we read the Scriptures, they are written so that we might believe in Jesus (John 20:31).

So what about the promises?  2 Corinthians 1:20 says that they are about Jesus.  The focus of the Bible is on Jesus.  The focus of the Bible is not on us.

How should this effect our Bible reading?  It should make us focus on Christ and His glory.  When we read the Old Testament: look for Christ.  When we read the New Testament: look for Christ.  Christ is the glorious One.  Christ is the exalted One (Philippians 2:5-11).  Christ is our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  Christ is the One who speaks to the Father in our defense (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1).  Christ is our everything!  In Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

So many go to the Bible looking for themselves or even a theology.  I use to read the Bible looking for Arminianism or even passages against Calvinism.  Now I just want to know Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  I don’t want to see this system or that.  I want to know Christ.  I want to love Him more and be closer to Him (Luke 14:25-35).  I want to be like Christ but I know this only comes through knowing Christ.  I do see myself as I draw closer to Christ and I see what selfies would not want to hear: that I am a sinner in need of this Savior (Romans 7:7).  The more I read and study of Jesus the more I see that He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and I am the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) so I know He came to save a wretch like me.  Oh I see myself as I read but it is not good (Romans 3:23).  Thankfully God is good and I see His goodness in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15; 2:9-10).  That God loves this flea is amazing to me!  The lower I see myself going, the higher I see the glory of Christ Jesus!

This has amazing results.  Prayer is no longer about me.  Worship is no longer about me.  Evangelism is no longer about me or even the people I witness to.  Church is no longer about me.  Creation itself is no longer about me.  The Bible is not about me!  Everything is focused on One: the Lord Jesus Christ.  All of creation, everything in creation is focused on Christ and His glory!  I want to preach Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5).  I want others to join in and worship the only One who is worthy to be worshiped!  Christ is the highest philosophy.  Christ the greatest study of science.  Christ is the One who is adored in true art.  Christ is the greatest example of a Man.  Christ is God.  Christ is worthy to be praised and adored and worshiped.  I want to know Christ more.  Not me.

God Knows Your Heart In Evangelism

I have long argued that methodology is not what should drive us when it comes to evangelism.  It should be theology that drives us in evangelism.  If we believe the Word of God, we believe the command of Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) and we truly believe that Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6).  There is one God and one mediator between people and God and that is the Man, Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  We believe that Jesus shed His blood for all people to be saved by His grace (Matthew 26:28; Mark 10:45; John 3:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 1 John 2:1-2).  We believe that God saves sinners from their sins by faith in Christ alone and that the blood of Jesus is the only thing that can cleanse us from sin (Hebrews 9:22, 27-28; 1 John 1:7).  We believe the promise of Romans 10:13.

That said, evangelism is not driven by our methods.  It is not about whether you do evangelism in the open air through preaching or one-on-one personal evangelism.  It is not about friendship or compassionate evangelism.  It is about the theology.  Do we believe that all people are lost without Christ (Matthew 7:13-14)? Do we believe that Jesus is truly the only way to salvation (Acts 4:12)?  Do we believe that all will stand before God when they die and give an account for their lives (Romans 14:10-11; Revelation 20:11-15)?  If so, we must preach the gospel to them (Romans 10:17).  People cannot believe in Him in whom they have not heard.  This is the point of Romans 10:14-17.  Faith comes by hearing the gospel.  The gospel saves (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).  The gospel is focused on Christ and His work on the cross.  The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was the message of the early Church in Acts and must be our message as well.  We must convinced as Paul the Apostle was in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15:

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Paul goes on to write in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21:

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

What drives us then is that we are convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture and that God has promised to do what He said He would do in His Word.  God will save the lost as we preach the gospel to them.

Some, however, do seek to “evangelize” without sharing the gospel.  I have met people who say that they are seeking to make disciples through friendship evangelism but they never share their faith.  They never tell the person that they are going to hell or that they are lost without Christ.  They never speak of God’s law (Romans 7:7) or the fact that their good works will never produce salvation (Isaiah 64:6).  They simply are not taking God’s Word seriously and do not love the other person whom they claim they love.  If they did love them, they would share the gospel with them.

God sees our hearts.  He knows if we are truly seeking to make disciples or not.  Again, this is not about methodology.  This is about your theology.  God knows if you truly believe His Word.  He knows if you are building relationships or doing good works for the purpose of glorifying His name through the preaching of the gospel.  God sees your heart if you are passing out tracts because you want to exalt Christ or if you simply want to exalt yourself.  God knows and He judges our hearts.

I pray I share the gospel out of love for the Lord and the lost.  I am sure that I have shared my faith before out of pride but I pray that the Lord forgives me for those times (1 John 1:9).  I want to glorify the Lord in my evangelism and I pray that however you share the gospel, I pray that you too are seeking to make Him known and make Jesus great.  I am convinced that salvation is the greatest miracle of all and I am amazed that God would leave the message of the gospel in our hands.  Yet what a better way for people to tell of the love of God (Romans 5:8-9) than by pointing both to the Word of God and to their own testimony of His saving grace (1 Timothy 1:15).

May Jesus be exalted in evangelism!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/06/2014 at 12:37 PM

Jesus Bore My Sins, The Wrath of a Holy God

The gospel causes me to do two things.  First, the gospel makes me realize my utter sinfulness before a holy God.  I have no righteousness apart from that which He imputes to me (Isaiah 64:6).  I cannot earn the favor of this holy God.  My sins have buried me in despair and I see how wicked I appear before this holy and just God.  How can I approach this holy One?  How can I find peace with Him who is perfect and I a sinner?

But the gospel also shows me the grace of God, that He would send His one and only Son to die for me, this wicked sinner.  The gospel is the goodness of God expressed in His Son.  The gospel is the love of God expressed in His Son.  The gospel does shout that I am sinful, condemned to die for my sins against this God but the gospel also shouts, “Grace to it” (Zechariah 4:7).  I see my wickedness but I see His beauty when I look at the gospel of our God (Romans 1:1).

The gospel reveals to me that Jesus has bore my sins.  He took the wrath of God in my place.  Isaiah prophesied about this Christ and His work in Isaiah 53.  I will place the entire passage here for us to mediate upon and see the wonder of the grace of God at work in His Son:

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Notice verse 10.  It was the will of the LORD to crush Him!  The will of God was that His perfect Son would bear my sins.  2 Corinthians 5:21 reads,

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 2:22-24 says,

22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Hebrews 2:9 reads,

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

The perfect, holy, blameless, righteous Son of God bore my sins on the cross.  He died in my place.  He suffered for me.  His blood was shed to wash away my sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7) and by His stripes I am now healed.  He bore the wrath of a holy God for me!

Romans 5:8-9 reads,

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 assures us that Jesus has saved us from the wrath to come.

On the cross, the Lord Jesus died so that I might live.  He offered Himself to God for my sins.  In that moment, on the cross, the holy Son bore the wrath of a holy God against me.  That is the glorious gospel!  The gospel is not a picture so that I can feel moved to obedience.  I cannot obey a holy God enough to please Him nor can I perfectly obey Him all my life (Romans 8:8).  I need forgiveness.  I need grace.  I get both in the Son.  The cross is not a mere example of a holy God honoring His Law but it is the perfect Son bearing the wrath that the condemned sinner should bear and will bear if they don’t repent.  The sole reason that I can now be saved from God is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray that we all would honor the Son for His glorious work on the cross!  Salvation is available only because of His work (Romans 3:21-26).  Jesus died for our sins (Galatians 1:4) and He was raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25).  We can now be forgiven and justified before a holy God because of the work of Christ and the work of Christ alone (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  Throughout all eternity we will worship the Lamb who bore our sins (Revelation 5:13-14).

When I Look At The Wicked (Psalm 10)

I am surrounded by unbelievers.  At my work, I am the only Christian that I know of.  I hope I am wrong (Romans 11:4).  The men that I work with are greedy, lustful, vile, cursing, blasphemous, and full of hatred.  They can be nice at times and I enjoy working with them but they are not disciples of Jesus at all.  While they would not claim to hate God with their mouths, they hate Him with their lives. They are what Stephen Charnock described as “practical atheists” who live their lives without every thinking about God though they know that they will face Him when they die (Hebrews 9:27).

In our society, it seems the sinful and wicked are living it up.  It is easy to look around and see the blasphemous walking around, living their lives to the fullest, and never considering God.  Their lives are full of sin, of their own desires, of seeking pleasure.  They do everything with an eye on themselves.  Even when disaster strikes and they seek to do just a little good toward other humans, their efforts are tainted by their own pride and self-glorification.  They do want to honor God nor give thought to Him just as Romans 1:21 reads.

And yet the wicked seem to live comfortable lives while the righteous struggle.  In fact, I have personally known people who claimed Christ and have abandoned faith in Him because it seemed their life with Christ was without joy and full of misery.  They saw the wicked prospering and that the wicked were having fun in this life and they wanted that.  They abandoned faith in Christ for the sins of this world.  They know 2 Peter 2:20-22 but they would rather have a little fun, enjoy the sinful pleasures of this life than to focus on eternity.  Like Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10, they love this present world.

Psalm 10 speaks to us who are seeking righteousness.  Psalm 10 is perfect for our day because how often have I also looked at the wicked and it seemed they were living carefree, fun, amazing, joyful lives that was full of sin.  I read 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and the wicked I see are fulfilling this but yet their lives are not marked by any suffering, no judgment, and they seemed to not have a care in this world.  Like Psalm 10:4, they seem to have no thought about God at all.  God is the last thing on their minds (or so it seems).

When the righteous focus in on the wicked, we do just what the psalmist does in Psalm 10:1-11 and we see the carefree lives of the wicked and we are discouraged.  How can the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer?  How can this vile person who curses the name of the Lord live such a joyful life?  The wicked around us live their lives just as Psalm 10:11 states.  They think God will not see nor judge them and if there is a God, He will love them and let them into His eternal bliss simply because they are human and He knows this.

Yet for the righteous, we continue in Psalm 10 down to verses 12-18 and here we finally see the end of the wicked.  The judgment of God will come.  The wicked will perish.  Obviously, I don’t want them to perish in their sins.  I want the wicked to repent as does the Lord (Ezekiel 18:30-32; 2 Peter 3:9).  God has sent His one and only Son to die for our sins and all can repent or perish (Acts 17:30-31).  The wicked needs to see the goodness of God in letting them live in spite of their sins (Romans 2:4).  The will of God is for the wicked to repent and embrace the Lord Jesus as their only hope for salvation from their sins (1 Timothy 2:4-6).  Psalm 10:12-18 shows that the Lord will vindicate His children.  God will show Himself strong in the end.  The wicked are allowed to continue in their sins for now but a time will come when they will either die or the world will end but either way, they will not find joy forever.  The wicked will suffer God’s righteous judgment (Psalm 10:16-18).

I rejoice that I am washed in the blood of Jesus.  The blood alone is my answer for my sins (Ephesians 1:7).  Jesus bore my sins on the cross and He is my Lord and Savior.  I want the wicked to know this.  I want the wicked to repent and turn from their sins (Luke 13:5).  The wicked falsely believe that they have joy.  Acts 3:19-20 promises us true joy when we repent.  The joy for the disciple of Christ comes from the Holy Spirit who lives in us (Galatians 5:22-23) and this joy is not based on circumstances or upon how people treat us.  Our joy, the joy of knowing Christ, the joy of having Him abide in us, the joy of knowing that we will see Him face to face and stand in awe of His glory when we die – this joy is not based on this world.  This joy cannot be taken from us by what happens to us.  Our joy is found in Jesus and we delight in knowing, loving, worshiping, and serving Him.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/21/2013 at 10:10 AM

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