Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Getting ready for PCRT - "These Last Days"

I've never actually had the opportunity to physically attend PCRT in the past, even though I've acquired many recordings of the events and have been a "Friend of the Alliance" (Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals) for many years.

This year, through the generous gift of a dear friend, I am able to attend all three days -- and I'm really psyched about it. I've read some reviews and heard some excellent feedback from the Greenville conference last week. Looking forward.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sin: Not the way it's supposed to be -- the essay

From T4G Cornelius Plantiga, Jr.'s essay version of his famous work on Sin.

Two Excellent Perspectives on Blogging

Lots of great diagnostic questions from Trevin Wax in this video that can be applied to blogging - and actually to all of life really (which is why it is so awesome):
(also enjoying Trevin's blog as well.)

Secondly, a great read from Biblical Christianity called On Blogging: Philosophy, Etiquette, Strategery by Dan Phillips.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Our Apologetic (and an offer from Ligonier)

Ligonier tweet: Tearing Down Strongholds teaching series CD collection for a donation of any amount thru 4/25 -> http://RYMoffer.com Enjoy.

The bruised reed, Christ will not break

... and the smoking flax, He will not quench.
I'm reading and following along with the study over at www.challies.com. We're on week 2, and Tim has a good summary of chapters 2 and 3 there. While all of the study is very, very good and helpful, this quote in particular struck me:
"The purest actions of the purest men need Christ to perfume them; and this is his office."


Those following along with the study are working on a definition for the bruised reed and the smoking flax right now in the comments section. I take it that the bruised reed is one who is acutely and chronically aware of their own sin nature. Not just particular sins or behaviors that are sinful, but our indwelling bent toward self and away from God. When the sinfulness of our sin is pressing down on us, it bruises us even more deeply. And that fullness of our bruising is what was laid on Christ as He suffered on our behalf on the cross.

As for the smoking flax, I find that just a bit more allusive. The smoking flax is like the lampstand that has been lit, but is smoldering and hasn't quite caught fire. It emits smoke instead of light, which smells, chokes us, and can be downright offensive. Christ will not put it out. Rather, the Holy Spirit will come along and fan it into flame so that someone who is a smoking flax will soon emit light and heat, as well as a sweet fragance -- the aroma of Christ.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Instructions "To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ"

Jude 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Doxology
24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.


I'm off into a busy day, but highly recommend John Calvin's Commentary on this section.
Especially helpful are his words concerning verse 23:
"When there is a danger of fire, we hesitate not to snatch away violently whom we desire to save; for it would not be enough to beckon with the finger, or kindly to stretch forth the hand. So also the salvation of some ought to be cared for, because they will not come to God, except when rudely drawn."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Lives are Hidden with Christ in God

Another awesome post from Ray Ortlund (excerpt):
"Nothing in the here-and-now communicates the true significance of our lives. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God. Concealed there. Safe there.

If you are a well-known Christian and everybody is flocking to you, look by faith beyond the fraudulent appearances of the moment. Your life is hidden with Christ in God.

If you are an unnoticed Christian and nobody is flocking to you, look by faith beyond the fraudulent appearances of the moment. Your life is hidden with Christ in God.


Your true significance can be known only in the eternal world above, with Christ in God."

On "White-knuckling"

As people who know me are aware, I used to go to AA. For me that means, I cannot safely drink alcohol. It does something chemically to my body which is different from what happens in regular people. If I drink wine during communion, I get a sensation from it that other people do not get, which is too strong a temptation for me to toy around with, I believe.

Since September 1994, I've only 'experimented' with alcohol a few times, and those occasions confirmed for me that by faith, I really do need to avoid it.

When I first quit and started attending meetings, I was just "white-knuckling it," as they say. Meaning, that I really did still want to do it, but out of fear of what would happen if I did, I just had to say "no." Fear of the increasing consequences of being given over to it, kept me from doing. I knew the consequences would be severe.

Soon, I began to learn to rely on God and to stop relying on my own strength to keep me away from it. Eventually, God got me to the point where I no longer desired, but rather detested, even the taste of alcohol. Still to this day, if I sip a little rum or beer, I can't stand it. I have no desire whatsoever (even though the effects are still the same). If I were to indulge my flesh or give into to the world on this, I would most likely end up lower than before and perhaps even on skid row or something in a matter of weeks.

I believe the Holy Spirit trains us to say no to ungodliness, but then as we follow His lead, He also gives us an increasing desire for Christ. Yes, we can and must white-knuckle it at first. As a person once enslaved and ensnared in destructive sin, I did just need to quit it, so that, I could then quickly, immediately, move on what is true, noble, and pure. And I must continue to be ready to be obedient in the small things each day, because I know how certain little habits can quickly turn into dominating passions.

In AA, they used to tell the whole problem was not that we lacked will-power, as many of us were used to bombarding all of our problems (and the people in our lives) with our own wills, much to our own demise. The problem was that our will was corrupted by being given over to alcohol. What we needed was redirection of our will, that it needed to be reformed to God's will.(something like that).

Sometimes and always at first, I do just need to white-knuckle it by holding tightly onto the Word, instead of holding tightly onto sin. Then I also remember that my white-knuckling will never keep me there secure or lead me home. By the renewing of my mind and no longer conforming to the pattern of this world, my will is being remade. And only by the grace of God and the power of Christ will my life be kept for heaven.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Repentence Doesn't Come from Sheer Determination

"If all you do is tell yourself over and over again, 'Be more humble,' it will not work. That approach is ineffective because the reason we struggle with pride in the first place is because we are all wrapped up in ourselves. If our only remedial strategy is to look inward, we will just reinforce the problem.The only way to grow in humility is to take our eyes off ourselves and meditate on the beauty and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ." - Chris Brauns, Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical answers for complex questions and deep wounds, pg. 82.

As a naturally introspective person, I find that this is a very good reminder.

I also think the truth of this applies to all sin. Battling _________(insert sin here) does not come from sheer determination. So many times, when I hear the word "Repent," I hear "get your act together," "just quit it," "pull yourself up by your own boot straps," etc... However, the Gospel tells me to turn away from myself and my sin - to stop looking at me and to stop relying on myself for anything. Then to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, to fix my eyes upon Him, and to trust Him alone for my salvation. This is not a one time deal. It is a life-long struggle against my own will. Apparently, I have something like amnesia when it comes to this, because I still need to be reminded daily to stop looking into the world's mirror at self and to gaze upon the loveliness and righteousness of Christ and see Him working in me by way of His mirror, which is the Word of God. Amen

Monday, April 19, 2010

Deception

"The serpent, who is more cunning than any of the beasts of the field, is a counterfeiter. It is his wily custom to not merely construct an alternate realm to the realm of Christ, but to craft every piece of that realm as a copy of the real. He is a mimic. Anti-Christ does not merely mean “against Christ” but likewise means “instead of Christ.” He is a false messiah of a false kingdom. And like the true Messiah, he is seeking those who would worship him. As such, he is a false prophet, a false priest, and a false king. For every blessing our Father above bestows upon His children, the Devil below has a faux blessing. And it is his unholy habit to cause us to confuse the two." R.C. Sproul, Jr. in his article: We Are Family

Just about any area of our life can present false kingdoms and false messiahs. Sports, reality TV, music, etc. Just about every area of culture presents its kings, priests, and prophets whom we are invited to worship and affinity groups with which we are bid to identify. And the allure of the gblt lifestyle is no different. I've always said that it is a mimic for the church, and though I very rarely write about this particilar topic, I felt compelled today by Mr. Sproul's article. Listen to backsliders giving reasons why they decide to "switch teams." Their reasons are not sound. Yes, they are passionate about their feelings, but their assessments are based on falsehood. And yes, from a strictly theological perspective on sin and temptation, they have given into the flesh (which we tend to be so very quick to detect and point out to them). But we must also be wise to the ways of the devil and world -- and how these things interact with our falleness. Not just for the sake of people who struggle with "that" sin, but even for every one of our own souls. Our false kingdoms and false messiahs are all around, if we look.

Mr. Sproul's article describes the real deal

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We Are Family

At Ligonier
"My kin are those who have been bought by the blood of the Lamb. They are my brothers and my sisters, even if they root for the wrong football team. My calling is to love them like family, for they are family. They, like me, have been born a second time, born into the family of God. We share a common Father, we share a common mother, the church, and we share a common brother, Jesus our Lord. This is now how our family is described, 'But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy' (1 Peter 2: 9–10). May we by His grace live as sojourners and pilgrims, our identity held not here on earth, but with our Father in heaven. May we live as His family."

The Gospel For Christians

Here is a great article posted at Reformation Theology by Tim Keller called "The Gospel for Christians"
Quote: "The gospel is not just the 'ABCs' but the 'A-to-Z' of the Christian life."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Good News Roundup

On the Gospel of Justification via JollyBlogger
"Only a fraction of the present body of confessing Christians are solidly appropriating the justifying work of Christ in their lives."


On How Not to Assume the Gospel via BetweenTwoWorlds
“Losing the gospel doesn’t happen all at once, it’s much more like a four generation process too:

The gospel is accepted —> The gospel is assumed —> The gospel is confused —> The gospel is lost.”


On Praying the Gospel via considerablegrace.com
When all else fails… pray the gospel.


On The Gospel-Driven Life via Ligonier
Harry Reeder's pink '57 Ford didn't look like much from a sixteen-year-old's perspective, but there was power under the hood. Read his words of encouragement and insight from the older generation to the younger.


On Paul Preaching the Gospel of Jesus via Miscelllanies
"God, be merciful to me, a Pharisee" Did Paul preach the gospel of Jesus? That was the question Dr John Piper sought to address last night at T4G in a message that became one of Tony Reinke's personal conference highlights


And I'll finish with a quote from next month's TableTalk (funny how I struggle to find time to keep up with my day to day devotionals most of the time, then bam, I'm like cramming for a whole month's worth this morning. I just couldn't put down May's edition of TableTalk though; it's so good. Here's the quote from Preaching Grace:
"There is also a loss of the spiritual power and dynamism in the Christian life because grace is spoken of without being experienced. The result is that Christians become compelled to service in their own strength, believing, albeit unconsciously, that their continued acceptance before God is based upon their performance in overcoming temptation. This wearies Christians because the performance-based life will always bring strain and fear of failure, as well as guilt when failure becomes real, which is inevitable while we remain in the flesh. Instead of the sight of Christ sacrificing Himself in love to redeem us, we become impelled by a moral demand that serves to make us both hard and tired at the same time. Congregations can then become unwelcoming in their ethos, as there develops a concentration upon behavior."


....But as JollyBlogger wrote in his post:
"Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand on Luther's platform; you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in the quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude."

Amen.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sinners and Tax Collectors: The April 15 Roundup

Sinners and Tax Collectors: The April 15 Roundup
Ed Welch of CCEF discusses a question he was recently asked about homosexuality

An Empty Cross? by Jill at RZIM Slice
excerpt: "'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.' Precisely because the cross was not empty, the resurrection is profoundly full."

From Jason Hood at WTJ: "The biblical teaching on the imitation of the crucified Christ is the most neglected aspect of recent work on the NT message of the cross."

Life on the Cultic Fringe with Carl Trueman, Reformation21.

Just for fun: Delaware - The Musical

Monday, April 12, 2010

Surprised by Suffering

from page 22:
"The Church is not Christ. Christ is perfect; the church is imperfect. Christ is the Redeemer; the church is the company of the redeemed. However, the church belongs to Christ. The church is redeemed by Christ. The church is the bride of Christ. The church is indwelt by Christ.
"In light of this solidarity, the church participates in Christ's suffering. But this participation adds nothing to Christ's merit. The sufferings of Christians may benefit other people, but they always fall short of the atonement. I cannot atone for anyone's sins (against a Holy God), not even for my own. Yet my suffering may be of great benefit to other people. It may also serve as a witness to the One whose sufferings were the atonement."


-- R.C. Sproul

We all suffer, it's true. At some point, every Christian has their Job moment(s). For some Christians, it's a lifelong experience. And every Christian has their Paul experiences of being hurt or betrayed by particular church people. But in any of this suffering, we are called to be martyrs. Not in the Joan of Arc sense, where we become more like marauders or vigilanties. Martyr is the foundation of the word witness. So to suffer as a martyr for the cause of Christ is to bare witness to the perfect Suffering Servant of God -- not ourselves.

Here is one more quote to this end from pg. 23:
"We are followers of Christ. We follow Him to the Garden of Gethsemane. We follow Him into the hall of judgement. We follow Him along the Via Delarose. We follow Him unto death. But the gospel declares that we also follow Him through the gates of Heaven. Because we suffer with Him, we also shall be raised with Him. If we are humiliated with Him, we also shall be exalted with Him. Because of Christ our suffering is not useless. It is part of the toal plan of God, who has chosen to redeem the world through the pathway of suffering." -R.C. Sproul

Profound Insight from Proverbs 14

Perhaps this is most famous passage in Proverbs 14, known as an apologetic against the worldy wisdom of man:

12 "There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death."


I know this scripture has come to mind for me many times as I attempt to solve my problems in my own strength or to preempt God's Providence by acting before waiting on Him. Being driven by my purposes, rather than living the purposes of God is an ever-present temptation. And there have been many occasions where this particular scripture has been a guide and companion.

Sunday, during our pastor's sermon on Proverb 14, however, Verse 4 jumped off the page for me. I don't think I've ever heard this or read it - ever.

Verse 4: "Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox."


In other words, too much of a focus on keeping the manger clean, can keep us from producing an abundant harvest. The church and its mission is messy. We should keep more of a farming/harvesting mindset than a curator's mindset. If we focus too much on making sure the museum ornaments, such as the manger, remain unblemished, then we are merely like musuem curators. However, if we become farmers - sowing, planting, watering, tilling.. well, we're probably going to get some manure on our hands and feet. And we shouldn't be surprised if the manger is getting used. Besides, that's why we have the manger, right?

I thought that was pretty amazing. I'm sure someone somewhere has written a book on it. (I'll have to get back with ya on it though.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What if Rick Warren was invited to speak at your conference?

As a recent volunteer for my PresWIC, I was privileged to serve on the council, assisting with all the details and publication of the event. The invitations, the crafts and take away gifts were a blast to put together with the other women on the council. The five of us had grown very close and were so thrilled with being able to serve the 150-200 women who attended our conference two weeks ago.

On the last night of our group assembly project, we five friends gathered once more for putting together the folders and handouts. When our president laid out the handouts for the speaker's material, I was immediately overcome by a tremendous nausea, my face turned bright red, and it felt like it was on fire. I could not believe what I was looking at. Every page was covered with quotes from Rick Warren! At a PCA Conference! Didn't anyone on the council know how controversial his material is? Didn't anyone know what she was speaking about?

None of that actually came out of my mouth, but everyone sitting there could tell by the mortified look on my face and the fact that it was probably changing every shade of red and purple, that something was wrong with me. My very next instinct was to pray about what I should say or do. At that moment, my care and concern for the others over rode my righteous indignation, and I made a choice not to say anything in front of everyone. Instead waited until the president and I were able to talk about it. I simply told her that since we are PCA, I thought there may be some people at the conference who will not appreciate the fact that the speaker is teaching out of the Purpose Driven Life and quoting Rick Warren, since he's not reformed. She was very concerned about that and trusts me on those types of issues. As a result, we decided to share our concern and the speaker's handouts with our liaison at the Presbytery -- just days before the conference. We had to make one minor change and that was it. Approved.

Conference day came, and about 150 or more women were blessed. The message was solid. Nobody walked out of the church (as far as we know), and the speaker did a really good job and got excellent reviews on the survey.

Do I have a point to any of this? Well, yes, two actually.

#1: Discernment and concern about doctrine and truth is an important issue. We need people on our team who can help us with these things, because we don't know what we don't know. So I am grateful for men with discernment who can help guide us with these issues. We really do need to be listening to them and appreciating their gifting, input, and leading in these areas.

And #2: (for me most importantly) All things being otherwise equal: Relationships are always more important than our visceral reactions. I could have set off the warning alarms, threw up all kinds of red flags, and alerted everyone involved to "the potential controversy." The Lord knows that's what I wanted to do in the worst way. But I also knew that it was not the right thing to do, because these were people I valued, cared about, and had gotten to know over many weeks of preparing for the conference. It would have been the most unloving thing for me to do, to try to "get them to understand" what I saw and to even think about it the way that I did. I just think it would have ruined the conference, or at a minimum made them feel differently about all the work that they put into the event.

Instead, I got schooled. (Yep, God's got a strange sense of humor, but He is always right and has impeccable timing.) Taking it offline and getting help from the presbytery, from a man in a position to make the call, was the right thing to do.
See Phil Johnson's post today for an even better assessment of the effects that the unbridled passion of discernment can have.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Part II: Can one person pay another person's moral debt?

In my previous post (Part I), I stated that in the absolute sense of our sin against a holy God, there is only One Man who could legitmately pay our entire moral debt in full. That man is Jesus Christ, when He died for our sin on the cross -- once for all.

In this post (Part II), I look at an example of how a person can actually legitmately make substitutionary atonement for another's moral debt on a one to one basis. In the case of a particular moral offense, when another person sins against a Christian, if the Christian forgives the other person in the name of Christ, then he or she is practicing substitutionary atonement. The offense is being absorbed by a deliberate choice (act of the will) by the person to whom a debt is owed, just as we are commanded to forgive our debtors. We know that somehow, in the eternal sense of the cross of calvary, this debt has been paid for through faith in Christ.

Given the atheist's and the world's disdain for the concept of substitutionary atonement, Christian forgiveness is one of the most miraculous ways we can demonstrate the love of Christ to the critics of the body of Christ.

Of course, those within the household of faith have an expectation of repentence for full restoration and reconciliation. Yet, by extending the olive branch of forgiveness, we often are acting as catalysts for that repentence to work its way out through the power of the Holy Spirit.

My struggle is that I am inclined to either fight or flight. Sweep it under the carpet or blow it out of proprotion. I'm aware of this tendency, which helps, but nonetheless, I struggle internally constantly with how to deal with forgiveness and justice. On the one hand, I do really want to forgive, to be rid of any trace of resentment, and to release my debtor. On the other hand, I also have a very strong sense of desiring justice and especially to look out for others who might be weak, oppressed, or unable to fight for themselves.

Mostly, I need much greater discernment about these things and the proper way of dealing with different levels of injury and injustice.

As a side note, Ray Ortlund has written a great little post on the topic of forgiveness that is helpful.

Monday, April 5, 2010

John MacArthur called it

“In the first quarter of 2009, Time magazine ran a cover story titled '10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now.' Number three on their list was 'The New Calvinism.' All of this, obviously is strong motivation for evangelical and post-modern pragmatists to jump on the Calvinist bandwagon. (Why wouldn’t those who think of religion as a product to be marketed-as well as those addicted to popularity-want to get into the fastest growing demographic?)

"Prepare yourself for a wave of erstwhile Emergents and evangelical pragmatists to run to the crowd and declare themselves the true representatives of neo-Calvinism. They will bring every pragmatic tool in their arsenal and will exert all their energies toward making 'the New Calvinism' seem even more stylish-until the glow fades and something else becomes stylish, and they will run after that. The sober, biblically minded remnant in their midst need to remain on guard.” -- John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel (Third Edition)

Thank you Challies!

Tim weighs in on the current DG controversy

I've had quite a journey coming to grips with the implications of the Gospel Driven Life and the Gospel Driven Church models. I think I'll write an entry or two about my ordeals and God's providence and sense of humor through my travails.

Meanwhile, do read Mr. Challies' assessment, as it is true and non-condemning.

Thanks!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is risen indeed!



Luke 24:1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7' The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " 8 Then they remembered his words.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Silence of God

by Andrew Peterson
It’s enough to drive a man crazy; it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven’s only answer is the silence of God

It’ll shake a man’s timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
‘Cause we all get lost sometimes…

There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

ht: DeYoung, Restless and Reformed

Was Three Hours of Suffering Enough?

Was Three Hours of Suffering Enough? at Desiring God

Question: If our sins are punished by eternal separation from God, why did Jesus only have to suffer momentary separation?
John Piper: That's a good question, and I think there's a pretty clear answer. Go here to watch the video and read the answer.

update: I had a spelling correction. For some reason I used "suffern" instead of suffer" Could it be because I used to work in Suffern, NY?:)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Can One Person Pay Another Person's Moral Debt?

Many atheists arguing against the Christian faith will invariably state that they believe that the concept of one person paying another person's moral debt is untenable. In their view, the only true justice is essentially "to each his own" or to put it another way, everyone must get their just desserts.

However, the concept of vicarious atonement was not simply a new idea that arose amongst the first century disciples. In fact, old testament high priests had to make atonement for the sins of all the people of Israel in the temple as well as for their own sins:

Hebrews 5
"1 Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.

4 No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
'You are my Son;
today I have become your Father' 6 And he says in another place,
'You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.'

7 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek."

Therefore, vicarious atonement was not new, nor was it considered immoral or wrong from the ancient near east view point. Furthermore, the role of high priest was a calling and not just anyone could perform this function, because the stakes were so high (more on this in a bit). Additionally, the atoning sacrifice had to be performed year after year, because the high priest would sin again and because the animal sacrifices did not offer complete, perfect and eternal atonement.

What about today?
Some would argue that this concept of someone 'getting off scott free' is at the heart of the impulse of liberalism that so many conservatives today despise. Two things: First, we must understand that the idea of vicarious atonement in no way is cheap grace or the same as people getting off scott free. The atonement is costly. The cost is death and the bearing of eternal wrath. Understand that no one is getting off scott free -- He gave his life freely, so that we might become like Him in His suffering and righteousness. Mark that.

Secondly, and here's the main point: We could never pay this debt!! It's not enough to say that one must pay one's own moral debt. Because it can't be done. That is why God's wrath and hell is eternal. If that is our condemnation, then it will never be enough.

When Christ died for our sins on the cross, God declared that it is enough -- that is finished. Our debt has been paid in full -- by the only means that it could be fully paid!!!

This runs parallel to the idea that because of original sin and our spiritual father being in Adam, we are unable to fulfill the demands of the law. Similarly, Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses on the cross, and by satisfying the demands of the law. In the same way, He fulfilled the demands of God's wrath for our sin and

He has paid our certificates of debt we each earned

"And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Colossians 2:13-14

The Romans would issue a debt certificate with a list of crimes committed against the state which required "payment" and post them publically.
Pontius Pilate issued a certificate of debt to Jesus when He was sentenced to be crucified, and it was nailed to the cross: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" (John 19:19).

Once the crimes were sufficiently paid for, the certificate was then canceled and stamped with the word tetelestai, meaning "paid in full." Colossians 2:14 says Jesus "canceled out" (paid) our certificate of debt. And remember, this debt was more than anyone but Jesus could have paid.

Jesus' last words on the cross were our own victory cry, "It is finished!" Literally, in Greek the word is "tetelestai!"

"He said, 'It is finished!' And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit." (John 19:30).

What was finished?
His work of redemption paying for our certificates of debt against God that are so great that even those who go to hell for eternity will never be able to pay.

PAID IN FULL! Yes, One person can pay another person's moral debt. In fact, only One Person -- Jesus Christ -- can pay the debt that we all deserve. Look to the cross today. Believe in the one who can free you. Repent and be saved. Amen.

And Have a Good Friday!

The Agonizing Prayer of Gethsemane

Agonizing Prayer by Jerry Bridges at Tabletalk Magazine

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39).

Find out why it was necessary for Jesus to drink the cup of God's wrath for us and why today is "Good Friday" for those of faith. Here is an excerpt:
We read the story of Gethsemane and the crucifixion so often that it has a tendency to become commonplace. If this is true of us, may we repent. And may we never again read Jesus’ prayer of anguish without reminding ourselves that it was God’s wrath against our sin that caused Him such unimaginable agony.

Countercultural

“The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."” – Luke 23:35

The world's measure of greatness is that one ought to be able to retain power and success under all conditions. Yet, in order for Christ to truly be Christ -- our Messiah, Lord and Savior -- God willed it that He must give His life. Not only to die for our sins, but also to suffer the equivalent of eternal wrath for all of those who would be called children of God.

It is humbling and goes against everything that the world stands for or wants to believe. Thank you Jesus for your perfect obedience and for what you've done for us on the cross.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursdsay

"This (mandatum novum) new command I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you." Mandatum (command) "Maundy" Thursday.
-- Burk Parsons @ Tabletalk

Free Download of Stuff Christians LIke

At Christianaudio.com -- get Stuff Christians Like for free during the month of April. (code:APR2010)

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