There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains,
lose all their guilty stains;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.
- William Cowper, 1731-1800
This is probably one of my favorite musical melodies. Better yet, the
words to this hymn are incredibly encouraging as I struggle with guilt
of past and present sin every day. Praise God, It was atoned for and
Finished on the Cross! I know what I further appreciate about the lyrics
in a weird nerdy way is the anatomical illustration of a vein. Mike,
if you care to know,the vein you normally have blood drawn from is
the median cubital vein, haha, was just tested on it this past week.
It thrills me when medicine and theology coincide!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
However, I have come to understand my standing before God is completely unconditional. I am learning that my relationship with Jesus Christ is entirely dependent on Him, and what He has done. He only asks me to believe. Anyone can believe. As scripture says, we are to believe like little children. It does not require a certain intellectual capacity, moral resume or work ethic. Believing is not something we stir up within ourselves. I've tried to believe harder, and it only shows me how I am a failure at something else. Believing requires trust, which is simply relying on another. That other is Jesus Christ.
The beauty of the grace of Jesus Christ is that it was already paid for. It required no 'if, then' statement. The rest is history. It miraculously transformed my heart to see Jesus on the cross and to believe in Him; to realize I couldn't get it done myself; to be forever grateful for rescuing me from the hell I deserve. The unconditional aspect of God's grace towards me now is what I know will sustain me. This is an absolute that cannot be touched.
"Much that we have interpreted as a defect of sanctification in churchpeople is really an outgrowth of their loss of bearing with respect to justification.--Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal(InterVarsity 1979), 211-212
Christians who are no longer sure that God loves and accepts them in Jesus, apart from their present spiritual achievements, are subconsciously radically insecure persons--much less secure than non-Christians, because they have too much light to rest easily under the constant bulletins they receive from their Christian environment about the holiness of God and the righteousness they are supposed to have."
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Charles Spurgeon writes in one of my favorite chapters of any book ever called 'Salvation Altogether by Grace' (Grace: God's Unmerited Favor)...
"The purpose of God is not founded on any foreseen merit of ours, but upon His grace alone. It is grace, all grace and nothing but grace from first to last. Man stands shivering outside, a condemned criminal, and God, sitting upon the throne, sends the herald to tell him that He is willing to receive sinners and to pardon them. The sinner replies, 'Well, I am willing to be pardoned if I am permitted to do something in order to earn pardon. If I can stand before the King and claim that I have done something to win His favor, I am quite willing to come.'
However, the herald replies, 'No, if you are pardoned, you must understand that it is entirely and wholly as an act of grace on God's part. He sees absolutely nothing good in you. He knows that there is nothing good in you. He is willing to take you as you are - black, bad, wicked and undeserving. He is willing to give you graciously what He would not sell you for any price (Isaiah 55:1) and what He knows you cannot earn from Him. Will you receive it?'
In the natural state, every man says, 'No, the very idea is abhorrent to me. I will not be saved in that style.' Well then, misguided soul, remember that you will never be saved at all, for God's way is salvation by grace. If you ever are saved, my dear one, you will have to confess that you never deserved or merited one single blessing from the God of grace."
The temptation to want to earn our salvation is the cancer within every one of us. It points to self, and completely goes against the purpose of salvation in the first place: the Glory of God. My tendency to neglect God's gift, more bluntly to not accept it for what it is, eats away at me. It tells me I haven't done enough today to be favorable for the King. It demands me to try harder, when really I have nothing to offer. However, Jesus demands nothing of me, but to receive Himself. And it doesn't even depend on the 'excellency in my reception' or how well I trust, but rather in who I am simply trusting in. Jesus. Period. May we all further know the fullness of His grace.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.
Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.
- Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
- Return, ye sons of men:
- All nations rose from earth at first,
- And turn to earth again.
A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.
- The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
- With all their lives and cares,
- Are carried downwards by the flood,
- And lost in following years.
Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
- Like flowery fields the nations stand
- Pleased with the morning light;
- The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
- Lie withering ere ‘tis night.
Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our God while life shall last,
And our eternal home.
Then Haggai said, 'If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?' The priests answered and said, 'It does become unclean.' Then Haggai answered and said, 'So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.'--Haggai 2:13
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, 'If you will, you can make me clean.' Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, 'I will; be clean.' And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.--Mark 1:40-42
In the OT, clean + unclean = unclean. In the NT, clean + unclean = clean. In the OT, defilement is contagious. In the NT, holiness is contagious. Good title, Blomberg.
Jesus brought in his train a whole new way of thinking, a new mental universe in which we do not see ourselves as basically clean in danger of defilement, but basically defiled in need of cleansing.
When Jesus arrived on the scene, he brought a new world of grace, the grace of God that was always there and fully accessible but muted, fuzzy, hazy, opaque. Calvin rightly speaks of the OT as the 'shadows' and the NT as the 'substance.'
Jesus Christ brought concrete, sharply defined, clearly contoured lines to that real but foggy OT grace. There he stood, right there before us, a flesh-and-blood man, Emmanuel. The Word became flesh. Full of grace and truth. Solid, substantive. The law came through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus.
The ultimate point?
The only clean man who ever lived became unclean on the cross so that you and I, unclean, can be freely cleansed by simply asking for it.
Hope for me.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
"This is the covenant of grace. I call your attention to the fact that there is no IF in it; there is no BUT in it; there is no requirement of man made by it. It is all "I WILL" and "they SHALL."
"[I] will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Jeremiah 31:33)
This gracious character is written in a royal tone, and the majestic strain is not marred by a perhaps or a maybe, but dwells always on SHALL and WILL. These are two prerogative words of the Divine Majesty. In this wondrous deed to the gift, not only does the Lord bestow a heaven of grace upon guilty sinners, but He also presents it according to the sovereignty of His own will, without anything to put the gift in jeopardy or to make the promise unsure."
- Charles Spurgeon, GRACE: God's Unmerited Favor
Monday, August 16, 2010
- Tim Keller, The Reason for God
"The faith that changes the life and connects to God is best conveyed by the word "trust." Imagine you are on a high cliff and lose your footing and begin to fall. Just beside you as you fall is a branch sticking out of the very edge of the cliff. It is your only hope and it is more than strong enough to support your weight. How can it save you? If your mind is filled with intellectual certainty that the branch can support you, but you don't actually reach out and grab it, you are lost. If your mind is instead filled with doubts and uncertainty that the branch can hold you, but you reach out and grab it anyway, you will be saved. Why? It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch. This means you don't have to wait for all doubts and fears to go away to take hold of Christ. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you have to banish all misgivings in order to meet God. That would turn your faith into one more way to be your own Savior. Working on the quality and purity of your commitment would become a way to merit salvation and put God in your debt. It is not the depth and purity of your heart but the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf that saves us."
This illustration is gold. Christ is the actor. He is doing the action, the saving itself. I confess how much I treat my faith as a spiritual resume I add to every day. I realize this in how much I think about my faith throughout the day, and not the author of my faith, Jesus. Keller's words resonate so powerfully to me because of how much I think about what I should do, rather than what Christ has done. My desire to want to essentially save myself is only evidence of my unbelief that my Savior will actually save me. May we rest in the security we have in Christ alone, who is certain to save those whom he has called. May we fix our eyes on Jesus, who has given us faith as a gift, and promises to carry us in it for all eternity.
Friday, August 13, 2010
“There is a difference between confessing sin as a culprit and confessing sin as a Child”
What a great reminder of our standing with God. A culprit confesses in fear. Fear of the consequences of his sins, fear of what the Judge’s sentence will be. As children we know that the court is adjourned. The sentence is in; because of Jesus, we are fully accepted by the Father and are fully approved. We are loved unconditionally as children. Therefore, we are able to freely confess, laying all our sins before our Father. We have been washed with His precious blood and are accepted once and for all. There is no fear in the confession of a child.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
"There is, then, a great gulf between the understanding that God accepts us because of our efforts and the understanding that God accepts us because of what Jesus has done. Religion operates on the principle 'I obey - therefore, I am accepted by God.' But the operating principle of the gospel is 'I am accepted by God through what Christ has done - therefore I obey.' Two people living their lives on the basis of these two different principles may sit next to each other in the church pew. They both pray, give money generously, and are loyal and faithful to their family and church, trying to live decent lives. However, they do so out of two radically different motivations, in two radically different spiritual identities, and the result is two radically different kinds of lives.
The primary difference is that of motivation. In religion, we try to obey the divine standards out of fear. We believe that if we don't obey we are going to lose God's blessing in this world and the next. In the gospel, the motivation is one of gratitude for the blessing we have already received because of Christ. While the moralist is forced into obedience, motivated by fear of rejection, a Christian rushes into obedience, motivated by a desire to please and resemble the one who gave his life for us...
...The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued and that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time."
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
Packer highlights the ingredients in the evangelical model of penal substitution to be...
"1. God, in Denney's phrase, 'condones nothing,' but judges all sin as it deserves: which Scripture affirms, and my conscience confirms, to be right.
2. My sins merit ultimate penal suffering and rejection from God's presence (conscience also confirms this), and nothing I do can blot them out.
3. The penalty due to me for my sins, whatever it was, was paid for me by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in his death on the cross.
4. Because this is so, I through faith in him am made "the righteousness of God in him", i.e., I am justified; pardon, acceptance, and sonship become mine.
5. Christ's death for me is my sole ground of hope before God. 'If he fulfilled not justice, I must; if he underwent not wrath, I must to eternity.' (John Owen)
6. My faith is Christ is God's own gift to me, given in virtue of Christ's death for me; i.e., the cross procured it.
7. Christ's death for me guarantees my preservation to glory.
8. Christ's death for me is the measure and pledge of the love of the Father and the Son to me.
9. Christ's death for me calls and constrains me to trust, to worship, to love, and to serve."
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
My wickedness has been made known to me,
My heart has been under deep conviction,
My soul has been awakened from death to life,
My moral standard is substituted with His perfect record,
My chains of bondage from idols are torn off,
My need for success is made insignificant,
My desire for love is fulfilled,
My significance has already been accomplished and given to me,
My sins are wiped clean forever,
My God smiles upon me and delights in me,
My Father adopts me as His beloved Son,
The wrongs of this world will be made right,
Perfect justice will set injustice straight by love,
I will be conformed into the image of Christ,
I may freely work to the best of my ability with pure motivation,
I may forgive my enemy,
I may love those who are not lovely,
I am truly accepted, and may joyfully obey,
I am given assurance of salvation and eternal life with my Savior,
I may only boast in Christ Jesus my Lord because it is All of Grace.
...I pray these truths will become ingrained on our hearts deeper still.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening let me return in it,
go out to the day's work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
- Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Question: What is your only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my Heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; indeed all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.