If God Is For Us…

Romans 8:31-32 — “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” esv

This is a profound application of the truth of the gospel — that by His amazing grace to us in Christ, God is for us. Such a grand truth for all believers to have and to hold. In a fine little booklet, The Heart of the Gospel: God’s Son Given for You, Dr Sinclair Ferguson lingers over this Scripture, unfolding the relationship of God the Father and God the Son, as well as the application of God’s gracious favor to Christians. heart__30386.1430240414.1280.1280

For example, Dr Ferguson says —

We must be very clear that it is not redemptive history that died on the cross for us. It was not typology that died on the cross for us, nor systematic theology, not preaching, nor the sacraments. It was the person of the Son of God in our humanity who died on the cross in an inner-Trinitarian transaction of grace between himself and the Father. He bore the holy curse of God upon his soul and prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). [page 19]

Near the end of this booklet, Ferguson employs biblical theology to explain the depth of Paul’s pastoral application here, and does it in a way that is helpful and heart-warming. (Ferguson is one of the best theologians writing today, with soundness and beauty).

Paul communicates something wonderful here about the truth of the gospel. What he says can transform our Christian lives and deal with our deep-seated needs, which keep unfolding from the depths of our being and which so often give rise to a mistrust of the Father. Paul is arguing that the fruit of Christ’s death on a tree reverses the fruit of the death that came from another tree [Gen. 3]. But there is even more than that! The fruit of the liberating truth enshrined in this death on the tree of Calvary is the ultimate antidote to the lie that caused death to come from the tree in the center of the garden of Eden in the first place. Remember that God set Adam in a garden surrounded by lavish plenty, but the Serpent hissed, “Has God said that he doesn’t want you to have any of this fruit?” That was a word from hell, and we have not escaped its echoes and implications reverberating in our own hearts and lives. Some of use hear it daily: “God doesn’t really want to do you good. Look what’s happening in your life. He doesn’t really love you.” Here, in this great statement of the gospel, Paul provides the medicine for this seat-seated sickness in your soul. If he did not spare his own Son for you, then you can be absolutely sure that the Father will stop at nothing to bless you, keep you, guide you, lead you, and bring you to glory. [page 22]

Amen! Friends, cling to the truth of Romans 8:32! I also encourage you to get a few copies of this fine booklet to read and giveaway to others. Believe the good news. Spread the good news.

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A good look at the cross…

  On this Good Friday you should be thinking about the cross. Nothing can teach you as much about Christianity as the cross. A serious view of the cross will impact your soul. Back in the 1800’s John Brown of Scotland wrote the following rich summary of what there is to see at the cross — and how it will affect you.

“Nothing is so well fitted to put the fear of God, which will preserve men from offending him, into the heart, as an enlightened view of the cross of Christ. There shines spotless holiness, inflexible justice, incomprehensible wisdom, omnipotent power, holy love. None of these excellencies darken or eclipse the other, but every one of them rather gives a luster to the rest. They mingle their beams, and shine with united external splendor: the just Judge, the merciful Father, the wise Governor. Nowhere does justice appear so awful, mercy so amiable, or wisdom so profound.”

Now is the Son of Man glorified…

When Judas the betrayer had left the upper room, Jesus  said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” (John 13:31). In these profound words Jesus tells us that the coming crucifixion, however horrible and sad in our eyes, was truly glorifying to both God the Father and God the Son. Jesus does not speak of it as humiliation or disgrace, but as the most glorious part of His work on earth.

J.C. Ryle says that the crucifixion brought glory to the Father as “it glorified His wisdom, faithfulness, holiness, and love.”

It showed Him wise, in providing a plan whereby He could be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly. It showed Him faithful in keeping His promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. It showed Him holy, in requiring His law’s demands to be satisfied by our great Substitute. It showed Him loving, in providing such a Mediator, such a redeemer, and such a Friend for sinful man as His co-eternal Son.

And as Jesus said so plainly, there was glory in the cross for the Son of God as well. Ryle continues to explain [from Expository Thoughts on the Gospels—John; III.45].

The crucifixion brought glory to the Son. It glorified His compassion, His patience, and His power. It showed Him most compassionate, in dying for us, suffering in our stead, allowing himself to be counted sin and a curse for us, and buying our redemption with the price of His own blood. It showed Him most patient, in not dying the common death of most men, but in willingly submitting to such pains and unknown agonies as no mind can conceive — when with a word He could have summoned His Father’s angels, and been set free. It showed Him most powerful, in bearing the weight of all the transgressions of the world, and vanquishing Satan, and despoiling him of his prey.

As you think of the cross of Jesus, consider the glory it brought to the Father and the Son.

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Learn from Judas Iscariot

On the first Good Friday, when Jesus had finished wrestling in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, His disciple Judas came to Him, leading a band of Jewish officials and armed men. “Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22:48, ESV). It is a moment of spiritual treason as a disciple — one of the Twelve Apostles — betrays his master to His mortal enemies.

1158157_96927848We do well to pause and learn from Judas here. You should ask yourself some serious, spiritual questions on this Good Friday. I was led to do so after reading a couple pages in a recent book by Michael McKinley entitled PASSION, How Christ’s Final Day Changes Your Every Day (The Good Book Co., 2013). Here’s a good way to learn from Judas —

It’s worth remembering the things that Judas had seen and done. He was one of the disciples sent out to preach the gospel with power to cast out demons and heal people (Luke 9:1-2). He sat in a boat as Jesus calmed a storm with a word (8:22-25). He saw Jesus feed the 5,000 (9:10-17). He watched as Jesus raised people from the dead (7:11–17). He heard Jesus’ sermons, probably multiple times. He was personally selected by Jesus to be part of HIs inner circle. He had even had his feet washed by Jesus!

And yet… despite all of those amazing experiences, Judas turns out not to be a disciple. He is not a true follower of Jesus. In the end, he is a traitor and a liar and a thief. He is a real-life example of what Jesus warns in Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (ESV)

Judas is a chilling reminder to us that you can’t rely on your past experiences as an indication of your current spiritual condition. And so Judas’ example should cause us to pause. If you think of yourself as a Christian, have you ever stopped to think how you can be sure you really are a Christian? Why are you confident that you are a genuine follower of Jesus? Because your parents are believers? Because you go to a church and everyone there assumes you are a Christian? Because you have served faithfully in your church? Maybe even because you’ve preached sermons or led people to Christ?

Judas reminds us that nothing you have done in the past can assure you that you are truly a follower of Christ. Yes, good fruit in your life is a good sign. But look at Judas; examine the resume that he could roll out for you. He looked good on paper, but in reality he sent Jesus to His death. Nothing you or I have seen or accomplished, nothing in our pedigree or experience can ultimately makes us a Christian.

from PASSION, How Christ’s Final Day Changes Your Every Day, by Mike McKinley, pages 30-31.
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Honorable Leadership Needed: Joel Beeke on the VP Debate

What has happened to honor — and honorable behavior — in our culture? Concerned from watching VP Joe Biden in the recent debate, Dr Joel Beeke discusses the topic of honor here.

Here are his first 3 paragraphs….

I stared in disbelief at my laptop last night as our Vice President interrupted Congressman Paul Ryan 96 times in about as many minutes of debate. When I observed his arrogance, his degrading laughter, his angry responses, and his dismissive attitude, I was deeply troubled.

These debates are first and foremost about policy. But when one’s attitude is so belligerent an honest dialogue of substantial issues can scarcely take place. It is not enough to excuse our Vice President by simply saying that he was trying to overwhelm the congressman like a tsunami, or to say, “That’s just the way Joe Biden is.” No one should act that way.

A burning issue was raised last night that is not on a party’s political platform, nor on a moderator’s list of questions, but is crucial for our nation. That’s the issue of relating to each other with dignity. Titus 3:2 reminds us “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” Even if we believe that another person is wrong and must be publicly corrected (as in a debate), we should do it in a way that shows courtesy and respect (2 Tim. 2:24; 1 Pet. 3:15–16).

Read the whole (brief) article here.

I’m Ever Thankful for Good Friday

(courtesy of Tony Reinke; click image for link)

Maundy Thursday: “A new commandment I give to you”

“In the traditional church calendar, today is Maundy Thursday, the day of Holy Week that commemorates Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper on the night that he was betrayed” writes Luke Stamps at the Credo blog….

“The name “Maundy Thursday” is taken from the phrase mandatum novum (“a new commandment”) from the Latin version of John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Today, Christians around the world will remember the events of that last night of Jesus’ life: his Last Supper, his final instructions to the disciples, his washing of the disciples’ feet, his betrayal and arrest. But one of the most gripping scenes of Maundy Thursday is Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there—in a secluded garden on the Mount of Olives—that the Son of God prepared himself for the epoch-shattering events of the next day, which would culminate in his wrath-bearing death on the cross.”

To read of these events, and the rest of the passion of Jesus Christ, you can turn to any of the four Gospels: the Gospel of John, beginning with chapter 13, the Gospel of Luke (ch 22), the Gospel of Matthew (ch 26), or the Gospel of Mark (ch 14).