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Archive for the ‘Justification’ 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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Last night there was a great buzz about how certain people were dressed for the red carpet. So much fuss over how one is dressed! And yet, how you are dressed is an important issue if the audience actually matters, especially in this case:

“Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel! Ye are hastening on to death and judgment, yet never ask, What garment shall cover me, when I stand before the great white throne? If you were going to appear before an earthly monarch, you would ask beforehand, Wherewith shall I be attired? If you were to be tried at an earthly bar, you would make sure of an advocate. How is it you press on so swiftly to the bar of God, and never ask the question, Wherewith shall I appear! “If the righteous scarcely are saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” [Memoirs and Remains of Robert Murray McCheyne, 379]

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From my Christmas sermon on Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

But what does it mean for you to come to Christ? It means that you look to him. Look to him. He says to you, “Come and receive my finished work for you. Receive my blood. Receive my payment for you. Receive this that I have done for you. Don’t bear your burden of guilt anymore. You’re angry – I’m at peace. You’re lustful – I’m pure. You’re hateful – I’m loving. You’re impatient – I’m waiting. You’re sinfully afraid – I’m resting in my Father’s love. You’re ungrateful – I’m thankful. You’re distrustful – I’m full of faith. You’re greedy – I’m content. You’ve murdered – I’ve given life. You’re an adulterer – I’m faithful. You’ve lied – I am the truth. You’re selfish – I always give myself away. You’ve sinned. I haven’t. Exchange it with me today. I’ve paid for it. Let my punishment bring you peace. Let it be so today. This is what it meant for me to come to this earth.”

And this is what the famous Anglican Preacher, Charles Simeon discovered:

“But in Passion Week, as I was reading Bishop Wilson on the Lord’s Supper, I met with an expression to this effect—’ That the Jews knew what they did, when they transferred their sin to the head of their offering.’ The thought came into my mind, What, may I transfer all my guilt to another? Has God provided an Offering for me, that I may lay my sins on His head? Then, God willing, I will not bear them on my own soul one moment longer. Accordingly I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus.”

Will you bear your sin one moment longer? Why not lay them on Jesus right now? That’s why he came.

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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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Psalm 32:1 “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven …”

Friend, I hope you understand that this is where Christianity begins. And in some ways the whole idea is stunning and counter-intuitive. You expect it to say: “Blessed is the law-keeper.” But instead it says: “Blessed is the law-breaker.” But this is Christianity. It begins with a fundamental understanding of yourself, your need, and the need is not that you are righteous but that you are not. It’s telling you something right off. It’s telling you the difference between man-made religion and gospel Christianity. Man-made religion begins by saying, “Blessed are those who keep the law, those who are good” and Christianity says blessed are those who know they can’t keep … who know they are not good enough. It’s not saying that it is good to break the law. It’s just telling us that the starting place of true blessedness is to quit acting like we are not guilty of transgression, sin, and iniquity. The man of the world is always trying to prove how good he is. The Christian is always saying I am not good, but I know one who is.” Do you know him?

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Read this. Now, here’s my initial thoughts. It’s obvious that we as a culture (world) have more and more trouble admitting our failures and confessing our sins. Why? Well, that’s because we don’t believe in sin anymore. We don’t believe that people do things that are wrong. We call them bad choices. We call them misjudgments. We call them anything but sin. No wonder we label adultery as an affair. We call teenage disrespect as gaining independence. We call selfishness an expression of the individual. We call fornication pre-marital sex. Look if there is no God or if God is omni-nice, then there’s really nothing to confess except that you may have caused someone some pain.

But there may be another reason we won’t admit our failures. It’s because we don’t know grace. Look, if I believed entrance to heaven or being justified in the eyes of God and man were dependent on my good deeds, I’d have trouble confessing too. But we have a gospel that says better things. We have a Savior whose blood speaks loudly. It tells us we are forgiven. It tells us we are justified in God’s eyes. It tells us to boldly come to the throne of grace. It tells us we are accepted. So, we can confess. We don’t have to hide or save face. Jesus was publicly displayed to save our souls. Come clean and confess. Say you’re sorry. Or say something more drastic. Say you’ve sinned. Tell others whom you have sinned against. The blood of Jesus speaks loudly.

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