The Second Aspect Of The Double Cure

Most of us understand that the shed blood of Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of all who believe in Him. We know that we deserve only God’s wrath, so we praise Jesus for taking that wrath in our place. His work on the cross fills us with unspeakable joy!

But the Lord didn’t stop at merely saving us from wrath. In addition to taking our sin upon Himself, He credited us with His righteousness. When He lived on earth, He lived in perfect obedience to the Father — He never sinned once! As He bore our sin, so we bear His righteousness in the eyes of the Father.

At the end of this earthly life, each person ever created will stand before the Judgment Throne of God. Christians can hide in Christ’s righteousness, praising Him for providing the double cure for sin.

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Saturday Sampler: May 24 – May 30

In her Sunday series for The End Time, Elizabeth Prata turns to one of the pre-Reformers. Her post, Sunday Martyr Moment: John Huss, ‘The goose is cooked”, reminds us how costly — and how necessary — it is to firmly stand for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s hear it for Michelle Lesley and her continued ability to combine common sense with Scriptural direction! She presents The Mailbag: Why no COVID weigh-in? with grace and strength, guiding her readers to respond Biblically. Her reasons for not blogging about this topic pretty much resemble my own.

Jordan Standridge reflects on The Dumbest Conspiracy Theory in History for The Cripplegate this week. His appeal to sound reason only supports the reliability of Scripture.

I appreciate Leslie A for using Growing 4 Life to help me examine myself before the Lord. Swimming Up a Waterfall provides another such opportunity. If you want to do some spiritual inventory, this blog post is for you!

This second essay by Elizabeth Prata may be difficult for some of you to read. It’s the 1960s all over again. I hated the ’60s demands our attention though, perhaps precisely because Elizabeth says difficult things that we need to hear. She also reminds us of the hope we have as Christians.

J.K. Wall shows us that We Are All Exiles Now in his article for Gentle Reformation. His devotional raises some interesting ideas that you may want to ponder.

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Why Can’t We Make Them Become Christians?

Al and I became friends about a year before I became a Christian. Early in the friendship he joined the military and was stationed in another state. Right away we began a correspondence that lasted a little over seven years.

Once Jesus had taken over my life, my letters to Al centered mostly around my efforts to evangelize him. Between letters (particularly in the first year), I prayed passionately for his salvation and begged my Christian friends to add their prayers. Each time he visited home, I shared the Gospel with him, imploring him to give his life to Jesus.

After I graduated from college, I came to understand that my obsession with Al was unhealthy. Rightly or wrongly, I wrote a final letter explaining that I had made him into an idol and that I had to let go of him. Since mailing that letter, I’ve only prayed for him a handful of times.

I’ve been thinking about Al lately. To be more specific, I’ve been thinking about my consuming desire to bring him to Jesus.

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Throwback Thursday ~~ Journaling: The Pitfall We Should Recognize

Originally published May 16, 2018

Little blonde angel

Between the autumn of 1977 and the spring of 1994, I kept a personal journal. I’d write about a wide variety of topics, ranging from Scriptures I’d read in my Quiet Time (frequently taken out of context and misapplied) to practical jokes I played on my friends. For the most part, however, I wrote about my disappointments, my frustrations and my fears. Toward the end of that 17-year period,  I realized that journaling served mainly to fuel my self-pity. For that reason, I abruptly quit writing it.

Perhaps some people can journal without focusing on themselves. Those people should certainly maintain journals! Their journals offer rich treasures to those who read them. But I suspect, especially in this culture that exalts feelings and believes in following psychological principles, that most people use their journals for the purpose of venting.

After 17 years of venting my feelings, I woke up to the fact that venting only keeps a person’s attention fixed on his or her problems. Venting through a journal is even worse, in my opinion, because the act of writing slows down the thought process, prolonging the focus on a subject. So when someone uses a personal journal to ruminate on their feelings, should it surprise us that we wind up wallowing in self-absorbtion?

Self-absorbtion, however,  is the antithesis of Biblical Christianity. Christ demands that His followers actually die to ourselves for His sake.

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” ~~Mark 8:34-38 (ESV)

Popular evangelical teachers promise us “our best life now” and romantic dates with Jesus, urging us to get in touch with our feelings. They advise hurting women to stay home from church on Mother’s Day and write their feelings out “to the Lord.” What horrible advice!

Honestly confessing our feelings to the Lord is one thing. Job, David, Jeremiah and Jesus all had times of pouring their hearts out to God. But in so doing, they invariably wound up acknowledging His sovereign right to order their circumstances according to His will. They ultimately turned their eyes away from themselves and back to Him.

If you keep a personal journal that revolves around your disappointments, frustrations and fears, please consider the possibility that it may be locking you into patterns of self-absorbtion. If possible, turn your journal into something your descendants can read to find Christ. Let them see that, no matter what your circumstances, He remains faithful and deserves the glory.

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Don’t Fear Looking At Your Sin

We live in a culture that tells us to love ourselves. Self-esteem is, according to almost everybody, an essential virtue — one that we must teach our children as soon as we possibly can. Even in evangelical circles, people frown upon those who speak too often about our wretchedness.

But can’t self-esteem frequently keep Christians from examining themselves periodically to see if we are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5)? Can it cause us to think of ourselves more highly than we should (Romans 12:3)?

You and I definitely should ask ourselves these questions when we find ourselves committing the same sin habitually. Children of God at some point start to resemble the Father’s holiness (1 Peter 1:14-21, 1 John 3:4-10). Sadly, many people who claim to be Christians do persist in unrepentant sin, often rationalizing their rebellion and sometimes even believing that God approves of what they do. When we don’t see evidence of genuine repentance in our lives — or at least grief over our sin — we need to ask ourselves if we have really been born again.

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Twitter Food Fights And Servants Of Christ

Her grin caused her nose to crinkle as she declared, “I love a good fight!” Probably not the wisest comment to make while discipling eight women in a Tuesday morning Bible Study, but we all laughed along with her. We knew her well enough to know she indeed liked a lively debate and took a little pride in her argumentation skills.

At the time, I felt a bit liberated by her offhand remark. Of course, I would have been careful in making any similar proclamation, and I think I’d feel a twinge of conviction if I ever admitted such a thing.

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Easter Has Implications For Our Benefit

Do you sometimes forget the glorious truth that Christ’s resurrection has implications on both our present life and eternity? I think most of us — myself included — tend to forget all about His resurrection shortly after we sit down to Easter dinner. Oh, it’s in the back of our minds and all that, but… well, it’s in the back of our minds.

But our Redeemer indeed does live, and therefore He plays an active role in our lives. Certainly, the ultimate purpose of His resurrection revolves around His glory. We must keep that in mind at all times. Yet His resurrection also results in benefits to us.

How generous the Lord is to take the event that most points to His exaltation and use it to extend grace and blessing to His people! Shouldn’t such kindness only cause us to adore Him all the more?

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Saturday Sampler May 18 — May 30

Not that I recommend the practice of women attending seminary, but I certainly approve of women reading and studying theology  on our own. Kim Shay of Out of the Ordinary reviews a book she read for one of her seminary classes, and I believe her review merits attention. Please read The Theocentric Nature of Revelation with your focus on the message itself. I pray more and more Christians will understand the book of Revelation from this perspective.

I definitely wholeheartedly recommend Growing 4 Life, the blog by Leslie A. Her  observations on The Nature of the Promises of God convict me, even as they encourage me and remind me to take a broader view of the Lord’s purposes in His promises. Don’t neglect this article.

Using her autism as an introduction, Elizabeth Prata writes Faces: Fallen, and angelic in The End Time to remind us how powerfully our faces reveal our hearts. Elizabeth’s writing gets more beautiful all the time, and this essay provides a particular example of that beauty. It also challenges me to watch my heart, lest my sin disfigure my face.

Being over 65, I eagerly read How Senior Adults Can Love the Church During COVID-19. Melissa in Your Mom Has a Blog. She does understand the frustrations I feel as people of my generation don’t get to enjoy the new freedoms afforded to the rest of the country, but she wonderfully explains how we can show love to the rest of the church by adhering to the restrictions placed on us.

Jesse Johnson exposes The real problem with Be Kind, Please Rewind theology for The Cripplegate in order to examine a fundamental problem with objecting to the doctrine of election. Before you dismiss his article as dry and academic, why don’t you give it a chance? It could be that — like me — you’ve never looked at this particular angle.

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Flashback Friday: People Don’t Want To Hear Such Things

Originally posted April 24, 2019:

Fun Evangelicals

Many years ago, I had a quirky little friend who constantly amused people with her funny hairstyles, her unique clothing choices and her droll sayings. For instance, when confronted with distasteful facts, she’d close her eyes, thrust her nose upward and announce, “I’m not listenin’!”

Naturally, we’d all chuckle at her pretended defiance, knowing that she’d eventually submit to the truth. She had only been a Christian a few months, after all, so she struggled to let go of worldly patterns. Thankfully, however, her genuine desire to please the Lord always won out.

Evangelical teachers like Joel Osteen prey on people who (in contrast to my funny little friend) really do refuse to listen to truth. Whether well-known like Osteen or obscure like pastors and teachers I’ve known personally, these false teachers have sacrificed the integrity of the Gospel in order to accommodate the preferences of those they claim to serve.

They rationalize their compromises by explaining that no one wants to hear about the wrath of God. No one appreciates  being called a sinner. And for goodness sake, no one enjoys sermons that even mention eternity in hell!

Accordingly, these false teachers emphasize prosperity, personal success and that cornerstone of psychology, self-esteem. Ooh! Ahh! They make their followers feel good about themselves, assuring them that God feels good about them too.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. ~~2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV)

Rather than focus on false teachers and their disastrous legacies, perhaps we ought to follow calling them out with the Biblical way of counteracting their poisonous influence. By simply zooming out from 2 Timothy 4:3-4 a tiny bit, we find the solution to the glut of false teaching that permeates evangelical circles.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. ~~2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV)

Even though Paul originally wrote this charge to Timothy with the immediate application going to men who pastor churches, all Christians bear the responsibility to evangelize the lost with sound doctrine and to disciple other believers using all of God’s Word. Doing so necessarily entails saying things that people (in their flesh) don’t want to hear.

Most people probably won’t accept the hard parts of the Gospel. That’s not our problem. Whereas false teachers concern themselves with amassing followers, our concern zeros in on telling the truth. God sovereignly takes care of drawing the elect to Himself through our faithfulness to proclaim the Gospel.

It doesn’t matter if they close their eyes, thrust their noses in the air and defiantly insist, “We’re not listenin’!” We need only be faithful.

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My Brothers In Christ And Intimate Friendship

Having never had a flesh and blood brother, I’m not completely sure how such relationships work. Do opposite sex siblings confide in each other at the depth that same sex siblings do?

Personally, I doubt it.

But even if natural brothers and sisters do share such intimacies, does it necessarily follow that God intends for brothers and sisters in Christ to have such closeness? Up front, I want you to know that I think that’s a very dangerous attitude to hold. And I want to explain from both Scripture and personal experience exactly why I object to equating spiritual sibling relationships with natural ones.

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