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Archive for the ‘Grace’ Category

From my sermon yesterday:

But I would have you look at 1 Cor 6:9-11 once more. 1 Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Look at that list. Look at those words – “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” I can’t imagine harder words than those. But do you know what Paul wrote next: 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. “And such were some of you.” I can’t imagine sweeter words than those. Look, I’m sure all of us here have committed sins on that list at one time or another. I’ve been an idolater. I’ve been greedy. I’ve lusted in my heart. But the gospel tells me that was what I was, not what I am now. Once those sins were my identity. Not now. Once those sins were my life. Not now. It’s not that I don’t ever do those things but they aren’t who I am.

And who am I? I am a washed, sanctified, justified sinner and that’s a world of difference than just being a sinner. I’m in Christ and God does not recognize me as those things I formerly were, he recognizes me by his own son. Why? Because Jesus’ blood covers my sin and his righteousness covers my sin. I can imagine that some of you have sins in your past, perhaps sexual sins, and you still feel so dirty and guilty, but you are trusting in Christ … these are God’s Word’s to you: “And such WERE some of you” … not are. Live in the freedom that Jesus has won for you. You have been washed and you are clean. Live like it.

Friends, this is the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is a trustworthy saying, that Jesus came into this world to save sinners of whom we are the foremost. There is not one person here who is not a sinner, of whom it cannot be said that the wages for their sin is eternal death, God’s judgment. But the gift of God is eternal life for all who will repent and believe. So, the call to turn from your sin, whether gay or straight, is not hate or hate speech but love … love compels you to turn from your sin (whatever sin that is) and come to Christ, just as love would compel someone not to make a decision that would ruin their financial future or to step away from a dangerous pit or to marry someone that will destroy their lives. If you ARE one of those persons, lost in your sin, living in your sin, not trusting in Christ, holding on to your sin and not onto Jesus, then why not be moved from ARE to WERE. Why not be washed today? Why not ask Jesus to cleanse you by his precious blood?

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From my sermon on Ruth 4:18-22:

And you see, it’s all so unexpected. It’s unexpected because it’s not what we deserve but it is what we need. This is mercy. And this is unexpected. It’s unexpected because the world operates on the principle that if you perform you will be rewarded. If you love me, I will love you back. If you do good to me, I will do good back to you. If I perform, I will get a reward. But the Bible turns this upside-down. It’s not a book about good people getting what they deserve. It’s a book about bad people receiving mercy. As Tullian Tchividjian wrote: “The Bible is not a book about the best people making it up to God; it’s a witness to God making it down to the worst people. Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver.” So, we would close the book of Judges and expect the next book to be the book of doom. But it’s not. Or we would expect the next book to be a story about the national repentance of God’s people who are now living as the good people they should have been and so their just reward is the king they always deserved. But it’s not. It’s a book about God’s kindness to an unwise family who left the Promised Land and ran to the far country, who did not deserve God’s grace; but bigger than that, it’s a book about God’s kindness to a wayward people, that points to King Jesus.

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Romans 6:1-2 1″What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

“When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.” Charles Spurgeon

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What do we share with Jesus, or rather, what does Jesus share with us?

First, We share with the Son in his justification.—Once Jesus was unjustified; once there were sins laid to his charge,—the sins of many. It was this that occasioned his agony in the garden, on the cross. His only comfort was, “He is near that justifieth me.” He knew the time would be short. But now the wrath of God has all fallen upon Him. The thunder-clouds of God’s anger have spent all their lightnings on his head. The vials of God’s wrath have poured out their last drops upon Him. He is now justified from all the sins that were laid upon Him. He has left them with the grave-clothes. His fellow-men and devils laid all sins to his charge; He was silent. Do you believe this record concerning the Son? Do you cleave to Jesus as yours? Then you have fellowship with Him in his justification. You are as much justified as Christ is. There is as little guilt lying upon you as there is upon Christ. The vials of wrath have not another drop for Christ, nor another drop for you. You are justified from all things.

Second, His adoption.—When Jesus went up to heaven, He said, “I go to my Father.” When He entered heaven, the word of God was “Thou art my Son; sit Thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Oh, it was a blessed exchange, when He left the frowns and curses of this world for the embrace of his Father’s arms,—when He left the thorny crown for a crown of glory,—when He came from under the wrath of God into the fatherly love of God! Such is your change, you that believe in Jesus. You have fellowship with the Son, you share in his adoption. He says, “I ascend to my Father and your Father.” God is as much your Father as He is Christ’s Father, your God as Christ’s God. Oh, what a change! for an heir of hell to become an heir of God, and joint-heir with Christ; to inherit God; to have a son’s interest in God! Eternity alone will teach you what is in that word, “heir of God.”

From the Memoirs and Remains of Roberty Murray McCheyne

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Sermon excerpt from Luke 10:17-20:

And I think that Jesus could see what was ultimately going to happen. He foresaw the doom of Satan, the end of his kingdom. He knew the kingdom of God had come in power and that Satan’s clock was ticking, that God’s purposes were coming to pass. It was just a foretaste (or foreseeing) of things to come, of Jesus’ kingdom swallowing up Satan’s.

And how will his kingdom do that? Well, it starts with Jesus first of all because of the power that Satan has. Satan has two things in his arsenal, two weapons more potent than anything else: the power to accuse and the power of death. And those two things are related. People are afraid to die because deep in their hearts they are afraid to face the judgment of God. And the reason they are afraid to face God’s judgment is because they are guilty of sin. And the Bible says that Satan, day and night, accuses all men before God and our own God-given consciences tell us he is right. He stands before God and says, “Look at Brandon. He lied on that day. He lusted on that day. He lost his temper on that day. He stole on that day. He loved sin more than you on that day. He loved a silly game more than you on that day.” And he reminds us as well. Every violation of every jot and tittle of God’s law is held up before our eyes and the eyes of God and our own consciences testify against us like the perfect prosecuting attorney and we know we’re guilty and Satan is right.

And we all know what’s on the business end of that accusation – death and God’s judgment. We know that the wages of sin is death. We know that the guilty shall not go unpunished. We know that if the Lord counts our iniquity none of us can stand. And Satan wields the power of accusation over us like a master blackmailer. You know the thing about blackmail – it never bothers you unless there’s some truth to the accusations.

But 2000 years ago … a man was born and he lived and he never sinned. I’m sure the devil sniffed all around him and conducted his own investigation and scoured his conscience but could not find one blemish. And for the first time in the history of mankind, he had nothing to accuse this man of or with. That’s why the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness are so huge – he was tempted and tried, but never sinned. And with no guilty conscience, Jesus could walk toward the cross and say, “the ruler of this world is coming; he has no claim on me.” (John 14:30)

And don’t you see this is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ? If you are in Christ, your guilt has been laid upon Jesus. And Jesus has been judged in your place on the cross. And Jesus has died in your place. In Christ you have been accused, indicted, judged, executed, and resurrected. And now you stand in Him, forgiven, pardoned, cleansed, and free from any accusation. Can a Christian sin again? Sure. But that sin holds no condemnation upon the Christian because that sin has already been dealt with. This is what Paul wrote in Colossians 2:

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Do you see it? The record of debt, your rap list, the accusers favorite weapon, has been set aside through the cross of Jesus Christ, cancelling that record and in so doing look what v15 says Jesus did: “He disarmed …” Or let Jesus say it differently: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

What was he doing up there anyway? Accusing God’s people. He can’t do that anymore.

Rev 12:7-10 7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. [Sound familiar? Sounds like Luke 10:18. Now listen to what else it says.] 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. [Do you see this? When Christ comes in power and authority Satan goes down. When Christ comes with salvation Satan goes down. That’s what Jesus saw. And how is the kingdom of Satan cast down? Next verse.] 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Do you see it? How do we conquer Satan? Through the blood of Jesus and our faith in Him. Even in the face of death, we conquer by holding on by faith to Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. This is how we fight. This is how we conquer – by trusting in Jesus even in the face of death, especially in the face of death, because the enemy can not hold death over us … why? Because he can’t accuse us anymore. He can’t say to the person who is in Christ, “If you die, you are going to hell.”

And he can’t say, “OK, if you die, maybe you won’t go to hell, but that’s it; there’s nothing left after that. It’s all over. You die.” He can’t say that because Jesus has broke the power of death by rising from the grave.

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les mis

Okay, I’ve gotta ask: have you seen Les Mis and what did you think? Aside from my desire at times for a little less singing/more dialogue, I loved it and was profoundly moved. What a story of suffering and redemption, of the power of grace and the law to destroy! I rarely cry at a movie but I so cried in this one more than once. You really need to see it if you haven’t. And don’t go looking for singing excellence (though most of the singing is good). Go looking for an amazing story and a great picture of redemption.

Here’s a review and it wouldn’t hurt to listen to the White Horse Inn’s review as well.

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Psalm 31. All of it. Now focus on these two verses:

[19] Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! … [23] Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. [24] Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Psalm 31 is one of those Psalms where David is crying out to God for help and that help usually takes the form of a whole lot of defeat for his enemies and a big rescue for himself. Nothing wrong with that, especially if your the king and have lots of enemies and those enemies are wicked people who seek your destruction because you are following God. That said, I found it both interesting and insightful that David appeals to the abundance of God in two different ways. He affirms that God’s goodness is abundant for those who love the Lord and are trusting in Him. Indeed, the Bible is filled with phrase after phrase of God’s abundant goodness, from creation to salvation. Jesus even said as much regarding his purpose: “I have come that they may have life and more abundantly.” How’s that for a mission statement? And here’s the thing. When you read the Bible you realize that if God is going to be good, he can’t help but be abundantly good. That’s just who he is. He is filled with abundant goodness. That’s why when he created the world it had to be good. He can’t help it. In fact, he can’t help but be abundant in everything he does. He’s not a half-do-it god. He’s all in.

But that includes judgment as well. When God judges he doesn’t half do-it. It’s full on and full measure. He can’t help it. Whatever he does, he does it right and perfectly and well. So the wicked, he says, drink his judgment down to the last dregs – the cup is full and it all goes down. When he judges the wicked, it’s all of them and it’s every wicked deed (see Jude 15). The fury they receive is the full wine-press, not part of it. A person either goes to hell or heaven. A person either knows Jesus or does not. A person is either born-again or not. There’s no half-way state or half-way place. He abundantly repays the prideful or as James says it, “He opposes the proud.”

So, which abundance do you wish to experience? Let us humble ourselves and fear the Lord and trust in Him that we might have life and life more abundantly.

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