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Archive for the tag “gospel”

We Are Sinners But God Is Compassionate

If you’re not familiar with the Old Testament nation of Israel & its history of being shown over & over again miraculous signs & wonders from God yet repeatedly rejecting Him, Psalm 78 is a good overview of that history. However, while I was reading it this evening 2 verses stuck out in the midst of the psalm:

In spite of all this, they still sinned;
despite his wonders, they did not believe.
[…]
Yet he, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
and did not stir up all his wrath.
(Psalm 78:32, 38 ESV)

These verses are not only true in relation to the Old Testament nation of Israel; they are also true for us today in relation to Jesus the Christ. We see the wonders of God daily: the sunrises; the changing of the seasons; the growth of plants; the awesome variability of the flora & fauna; the growth of a human from the joining of sperm & egg into a little baby, small child, teenager, adult; and on and on and on. We also have the testimony of the Bible from the wonder of creation through the mighty works of God in the Old Testament to the miracles of the New Testament, & the ultimate of all wonders in God’s Word–the resurrection of Jesus from death!

In spite of all this, we still sin; despite all these wonders, we still do not believe!

And yet, God is compassionate! Even though we do not obey His Word. Even though we sin against Him. Even though we reject the Creator of all things. Even though we reject the Savior. Even though we do all these things to directly offend Him who is infinite & is perfect in all aspects of His character (which means He is infinite & perfect in both Love AND Justice among many other attributes). He desires to see His people saved!

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

God’s most basic laws show us that we are sinners & should make us realize, merely by comparing our individual lives to His standard, that we are incapable of obeying His laws of our own accord:
1. We love other gods (This means we love other things above God Himself, not necessarily that we love specific gods such as those of other religions, though it definitely means that as well)
2. We serve images & idolize things above God.
3. We use God’s name flippantly.
4. We do not set aside a day for God. We do not rest from our worldly pursuits & focus purely on Him.
5. We do not honor our parents (while under their roof or once on our own)
6. We murder (if not literally, than by our anger with others–see Matthew 5:21-22)
7. We commit adultery (if not literally, than by our lust of others–see Matthew 5:27-28)
8. We steal (there is no qualification here of the worth of the object stolen)
9. We lie about others.
10. We desire things that others have.
[from Exodus 20:3-17]

And if that was not enough, look at what Jesus says in Mark 12

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

Do we manage to uphold even these 2 things?!

And yet, God is compassionate on us wretched sinners who deserve His Just Wrath for our transgressions against His infinite character! Jesus came to fulfill God’s law & accept the punishment we deserve in our place as only one who was fully God and fully man could possibly do. He willingly laid down His life, & if He had done only that, it would be of no eternal consequence; it would essentially be meaningless. He also rose from the dead. He defeated Death! Because of that, we have hope!

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:12-22 ESV)

Jesus is the good news to the bad news that we have sinned against God and are deserving of eternal punishment. How does this good news, this Gospel, become your hope? Repent, turn away, from your sinful ways; believe in Jesus the Christ and what He accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9, 10 ESV)

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Peace of Mind or the Peace That Passes All Understanding

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.[…] I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Phil 4:4-9 & 11b-13 (ESV)

Being at peace with a decision is not the same as having the peace that passes all understanding. Making a decision that falls in line with your own desires is likely to produce a peace about the decision, but having a peace that passes all understanding is being at peace with the God of the universe through Jesus the Christ even though we deserve no peace from Him because we have committed treason against His infinite attributes (in other words, we have sinned against Him). If you have THAT peace, you can be at peace no matter what situation you are in regardless of whether it lines up with your desires or not.

“It is a by-product of the presence of the ‘God of peace’ that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The full reality of that peace comes to bear as we obey the command of verse 8 above: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”–in other words, saturate your thoughts in Christ & the Gospel. (Thank you Pastor Gary for that helpful insight!)

Was CfA Appreciation Day Worth It?

Ever since I first heard about Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, there was something about it that bothered me. On some level I didn’t like the idea, but I just wasn’t able to figure out exactly what it was.

I love CfA’s food & their customer service is probably the best of any company with which I’ve ever dealt. I agree with Dan Cathy’s statements, & I don’t think they were a surprise or in any way hateful. I despised the way the media created a story where (at least initially) there really wasn’t one (see here for a good explanation of this). I was only slightly surprised by the intolerance of those that claimed tolerance (Thomas Menino, Rahm Emanuel, etc.).

So why would I be suspect of CfA Appreciation Day?

Shouldn’t we show solidarity with those with whom we agree? Especially our Christian brothers & sisters? Isn’t it important to stand up for Free Speech & the Free Exercise of Religion?

Well, yes but…

The first article to capture what I was struggling with but unable to express was at Deep Roots Library. There are lots of things I could quote from the post because I generally agree with the entire thing, but, basically, I had reservations over CfA Appreciation Day because “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation”. Standing in line for hours to eat chicken (delicious though it may be) in support of a man’s biblical views is decidedly NOT the Gospel. In case you’re unaware, the Gospel is the good news that even though we have each committed treason against the Almighty Creator of the universe (also known as “sin”) & deserve eternal punishment (b/c that treason was against an eternal God), God in His mercy & grace has provided a way for us to be forgiven & reconciled to Him if we would only believe on Jesus Christ (his life, death, & resurrection) & repent of our sins (turn away from those sins & turn to Jesus).

God has called His people to go preach the Gospel & make disciples. He has not called us to fight the Great Liberal Left Enemy. He has not called us to take easy stands against a progressive agenda by doing something that we love to do anyway (i.e.-eat delicious chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, hand-spun shakes, etc.). He has called us to proclaim His good news, & that good news will be offensive to many & will cause us to be hated & persecuted; that is a promise from God! We are told that we will be hated for Jesus’ sake, but we are not told that we should go forth & try to make people hate us. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us to live in harmony with one another, to not repay evil with evil, & to live peaceably with all (Romans 12:14-21).

By reacting in this way, are we acting in a loving manner & turning the other cheek? Or are we fighting fire with fire (by doing what amounts to anti-boycotting a boycott)? If so, is that the Christ-like way to respond? When we do such things, I’m concerned that it harms our testimony to the Gospel. I think this is similar to an article on poor tipping that I linked to on my Facebook page a week or two ago; when we tip poorly or react to something negative in kind manner, we may be failing to demonstrate the love, mercy, & generosity that Christ has shown to us. When we fail (& we all do & will sometimes) at these things, it demonstrates to the world that we are no different from from the world. What Christ did & what He taught was radically different from what the world taught & continues to teach.

I don’t think it was necessarily wrong to support CfA Appreciation Day, but we each, on an individual level, should examine our hearts closely before doing these kinds of things to ensure that we are doing it out of love rather than merely in a reactionary way or out of spite. And we should be aware of how those that we might hope to win to Christ may view our actions.

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:35) And, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”(Matt 22:39)

I just wonder if this is what was demonstrated last Wednesday or not. I wonder if there were not better ways to stand up for the 1st Amendment, &, even more so, were there not better ways to demonstrate God’s love, grace, mercy, & forgiveness without compromising our beliefs.

Here are some other posts that I found helpful:

Why the Chick-fil-A Boycott is Really about Jesus

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day: A bold mistake

A response to my Critics

What Our Culture of Death Has Wrought

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?. As absolutely horrible as the ideas put forth in this article are to even contemplate (& as horrendous as it is that a peer-reviewed journal published it), having this article out could actually be a positive thing for those of us who value the sanctity of life. As John Knight of Desiring God points out, “[The authors] have, in fact, done a great service to the cause of the unborn by openly and clearly connecting the argument for infanticide with abortion.” And that’s just it, I think the average person would be appalled at the thought of infanticide, especially of otherwise “normal” babies. Most people, I suspect, would consider that to be murder (and rightfully so, I might add!). But, if someone considers abortion to be a  perfectly okay choice for whatever reason the mother wants (and many do think this way), then it is only logical that infanticide is also okay for whatever reason the parent(s) decide. The fact that this has been published in a well-respected peer-reviewed journal should, it seems, be an indication of the increasing acceptability of such ideas, at least at the academic level (which means it is only a matter of time before it is acceptable at the lay level).

Read more…

Every knee will bow…

As we sang How Great is Our God at church this evening, I noticed for the first time (or paid attention to) the lyrics “And all will see/How great is our God”. This, in turn, made me think about Philippians 2:10-11. As I considered these things, I thought about how these statements could be viewed by Christians with an air of haughtiness. But while there may be satisfaction in knowing that those who stand opposed to God & deny his existence will one day have to acknowledge Him & give glory to Him, I do not think we should feel pride over this fact.

There are at least 3 things that this knowledge should do:

  1. It should sadden us to realize that there will be many who will not acknowledge God for who He truly is until it is too late.
  2. It should humble us. For but by the grace of God, we would be just like them.
  3. It should encourage us to spread the Gospel even more so that every person has the chance to believe on Jesus & be reconciled to God. Because we do not know who God will save, we should preach the Gospel to all persons.

$ Freedom, Community, Word & Picture Power, Human Trafficking, Vocation

Ed Stetzer – Road to Financial Freedom Sermon Series– Free Resource for Churches. This looks like it could be a helpful resource. They are giving away one sermon & curriculum kit per church to any church that requests them.

It’s Just Another Day « It’s Just Me. Mr. Lee sees in his local coffee shop what community should (but often doesn’t) look like in the church.

Learning from Christopher Hitchens: Lessons Evangelicals Must Not Miss. “[…]the death of Christopher Hitchens is an absolute tragedy. And, as is often the case with such a tragedy, we dare not miss the lessons with which we are left.” This post speaks to the power of words.

Visual Theology – The Order of Salvation | Challies Dot Com. Pretty neat infographic from Challies showing the order of salvation (The infographic explains this, but keep in mind that this is a logical not chronological sequence-some of these steps occur simultaneously). And this one to the power of pictures (with words)

What Is Human Trafficking? | The Resurgence. Yesterday was Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Read this. Understand it. And see what you can do about it.

Human Trafficking Awareness Day: Millions Held in Forced Labor, US Says. Another good article on human trafficking. “Slavery is more affordable, more widespread and more entrenched in 2011 than it was in ancient Rome or the antebellum South of America.”

The Intrinsic Value of What You Do (Yes, You!) | Challies Dot Com. “[…]the foundation of the moral significance of our work is not what our work is, but whether or not we are doing it in faith and to God’s glory (Ephesians 6:5-9).”

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