Category Archives: Atonement

Proclaiming God’s Glory

One of my favorite aspects of the Christmas season is that people tolerate — and sometimes even enjoy — hymns that celebrate Christ’s incarnation. What a glorious thing! Granted, many have little idea of what the hymns actually mean, but they sing them anyway.

Maybe we can use these beloved hymns as springboards for telling others that God the Son became a Man so that He could shed His blood to atone for the sins of all who will believe. For instance, the angels in the hymn I’m featuring today shout “Glory to God in the highest” because the Savior had been born. We can share this popular hymn and then explain why the angels had such tremendous joy. Joy that could cause our friends to sing their own praises to God.

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It’s Just A Small Little Sin

Coffee Stained Wedding Gown

The Gospel teaches that men and women are sinners by nature and by choice, unable to stand in the presence of a holy God. But that same God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, came to earth and lived a sinless life before voluntarily suffering a painful crucifixion during which He accepted His Father’s wrath, thus atoning for the sins of all who would believe in Him. Three days later He rose from the dead, signifying that the Father accepted His sacrifice as well as assuring believers of eternal life in His presence.

The Holy Spirit regenerates Christians by enabling us to believe in Jesus Christ as the only Savior. This faith is immediately demonstrated by an attitude of repentance as an acknowledgment of Christ’s  authority over us.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 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. 18 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)

Believers know these things backwards and forwards…or at least they should. Sadly, most 21st Century evangelicals don’t readily articulate the Gospel when asked to do so. Even more tragic, many who claim to be Christians live as though Jesus exists to serve them when they ought to recognize themselves as His slaves.

As I see it, a major reason that evangelicals misunderstand and pervert the Gospel stems from difficulty accepting the fact that we actually need a Savior in the first place. Surely we aren’t that bad! And doesn’t  our good outweigh the mistakes we’ve made?

Think of it this way. It’s your wedding day, and you take your expensive white gown out of the closest. Laying it on your bed, you notice a few small spots. Coffee stains!  Your bridesmaids try to comfort you, pointing out that most of the  gown is still white. People probably won’t even notice those tiny brown stains,  they assure you with soothing voices.

But you know (and so do they) that the dress is ruined.

Even the smallest sin ruins us when we measure ourselves against God’s holy perfection. Everything else about us may be pristine, just like a wedding gown, but the yards of white linen and tulle can’t  atone for those tiny coffee spots.  And all our self-perceived goodness can’t make us acceptable to God.

That’s why Christ’s death on the cross is such good news. He paid the penalty for our sins, clothing is in His righteousness. He presents us to the Father in His purity, as though we’d never soiled ourselves.

If you haven’t yet placed your faith in Him,  I beg you to stop trusting the notion that your so-called good outweighs your sin. The stain may appear small to you, but it leaves you with damage that only Jesus can repair. Once you recognize your desperate need for the salvation that only He can accomplish, the rest of the Gospel falls easily into place.

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In My Place Condemned He Stood

We speak so easily of Jesus dying for us, don’t we? In so doing, we run a great risk of forgetting the full impact of His atoning sacrifice for us. Case in point: we numb ourselves to the reality that each and every one of us belonged on that Roman cross, but He didn’t. He voluntarily accepted our condemnation.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

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We Can’t Outgrow The Basics

3D CrossAs Christians, we easily get caught up in good pursuits, discussing important topics such as those represented on this blog. Nothing wrong with that, really. Certainly, I have every intention of continuing to write about these matters as long as I possibly can, since I believe women need good discipleship as the world grows increasingly hostile to Christianity.

But sometimes the conversation gets so detailed that we tend to forget the basic Gospel.  Perhaps we assume that, once we’ve received Christ, we can move on to loftier matters. Or maybe we’ve become bored with the Gospel and crave subject matter that offers more intellectual and/or emotional stimulation.  I mean, we all know that Jesus died for our sins, rose again and saves those who repent and believe in Him.

Yes, most of my readers know the Gospel. Some may not, but the majority of you do. However, ladies,  none of us can hear or read it too often. We all need to remember that we are saved,  not because of anything we’ve done, but because Jesus Christ offered Himself to bear the wrath of God that rightfully belonged to us.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~~Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV)

Did you notice that Paul addresses this passage to Christians?  He preaches this very rudimentary message to people who have already experienced God’s saving grace, even though this passage can definitely be used in evangelism. Evidently the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to remind the Ephesian Christians of the Gospel, despite the fact that they had already been saved.

No matter how long, or how deeply,  we walk with the Lord, we never outgrow the need to hear that Jesus Christ took our place on that cross, shedding His innocent blood in payment for our sins.  As we mature in Him, of course we will pay attention to many other issues that Christians must face, as well we should. But we must keep the Gospel central in our hearts and minds as we glorify the Lord for His grace in saving us.

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Saturday Sampler: October 29 — November 5

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An essay by Ryan Higginbottom in Knowable Word reveals One Temptation of Digital Searching that had never occurred to me. His admonition might spare you from misinterpreting God’s Word.

I enjoy pretty much everything Candi Finch writes on Biblical Woman, but Meet Katie Luther, One of the Protestant Reformation’s Leading Ladies has to be my all-time favorite piece I’ve read of hers. Once again,  we see that history can not only inspiring, but downright fun! I dare you to get through this piece without cracking a smile.

Writing for The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge gives us The Cry of the Reformation: Jesus is our Sufficient Savior!  His article goes to the heart of the Reformation, directing us  back to the Lord Jesus Christ as all a sinner ever needs.

What should 21st Century evangelicals learn from the Reformers’ cry of Sola Scriptura?Michael J. Krueger of Canon Fodder answers that question with What is Sola Scriptura Protecting Us Against? More Than You Think. This article taught me a few things that deepen my appreciation for this doctrine of grace.

On her blog,  The End Time, Elizabeth Prata analyzes the state of present-day evangelicalism against the backdrop of the Reformation. Reformation Day 500 and counting! affirms the sad reality that the Reformation is far from over. Her essay will enhance your conviction that we absolutely must stand on God’s Word, using it as an instrument of discernment.

Reprising an article from Tabletalk Magazine (which I read all the time), the blog from Ligonier features The Holy Spirit’s Ministry by Sinclair  Ferguson. If you struggle with the idea that some of the Spirit’s gifts ceased with the close of the apostolic era, this piece may help you.

I’ve definitely sinned in my attempts to perform discernment ministry. So Lara d’Entremont’s blog post in Renewed in Truth Discipleship, Where Discernment Goes Wrong, rightly convicted me. Please take a look at the post yourselves and see whether or not the Lord would have you reconsider your approach to discernment.

Erin Benziger once again correctly uses Scripture to expose a sin that all of us fall into — usually without realizing it. In Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Envy on Do Not Be Surprised, she illustrates the dangerous potential in this seemingly innocuous sin.

I’m including a second article from The Cripplegate because Jesse Johnson’s Semper Reformanda? addresses seven serious problems in 21st Century evangelical churches. My regular readers will notice that some of his concerns echo issues that I’ve been writing about for years. Please take a look at this thought-provoking blog post.

Commenting on events in the news, Jennifer of One Hired Late In The Day concludes that Sin makes people stupid, and explains the world we live in. Her essay matches the power of its title!

I struggle with sinful, self-centered anger.  But Michelle Lesley reminds of 6 Reasons to Recapture Righteous Anger. She makes very interesting and unexpected observations that most Christians overlook.

As someone who has been severely disabled since birth, I read Tim Challies’ essay,  No Better (Or Worse) Time To Be Disabled with tremendous interest. Although he specifies people with intellectual disabilities, don’t think for a moment that these ideas couldn’t eventually carry over to anyone with severe birth defects.

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Divided By Faith Alone

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When faced with recent discussions about the Protestant Reformation this past week, many evangelicals have defended Catholics by offering anecdotal stories of Catholic friends and family members who love Jesus. They consequently object to statements that the Roman Catholic Church teaches a false gospel. Furthermore, they plead for evangelicals to lay aside our differences with Catholics and focus on the things that unite us.

Certainly, a few people in the Catholic Church may, by God’s grace, possess genuine salvation. Before I say anything else, I must acknowledge that very real possibility. Last time I checked, the Holy Spirit hadn’t given me His ability to look into anyone’s heart to assess their standing with the Lord.

Having said that, intellectual honesty demands that we recognize the many unbiblical teachings that Roman Catholicism promotes. Most notably, as I’ve stated repeatedly on this blog, Catholic doctrine adds the works of penance and the sacraments to faith as conditions of salvation.

People of any religion may feel love for Jesus, and yet trust in false religion for their salvation. Every time John and I go into Boston, we see Jehovah’s Witnesses standing in populated ares with their literature, smiling invitingly at tourists and locals alike in hopes of engaging someone in conversation. These people most assuredly preach heresy, but every single one of them sincerely believes he or she loves Jesus. Sadly, they love a false Jesus and trust in a system of salvation by works that will lead them straight to hell unless God intervenes.

Loving Jesus isn’t the criteria for salvation, my friends. Trusting Him, and Him alone, is. His finished work on the cross completely paid the penalty for the sins of all who place their faith in Him, and His resurrection guarantees that believers will one day be raised with Him. The apostle Paul said that this simple message, without embellishment, is the whole Gospel.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, ~~1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV)

Catholic doctrine, much like the doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and pretty much every religious system other than Biblical Christianity, adds to Christ’s work on the cross, assigning human responsibility to the salvation event. But, as we’ve been learning in our Monday Bible Studies on Titus, good works are a result of salvation, not a means of obtaining it.

Roman Catholicism, I regret to say, has yet to recant the Council of Trent, which pronounces damnation on anyone who insists on salvation by faith alone. Despite declarations of love for Jesus, Catholics who participate in the sacramental system of the Catholic Church implicitly demonstrate that they trust something other than Christ’s finished work on the cross. Therefore, like the 16th Century Reformers, modern-day evangelicals must not disregard this fundamental difference in doctrine.

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Amazing Grace And Why I Love Verse 2

Imagine being a 17-year-old girl who read just enough of the Bible to know she was a hopelessly wretched sinner deserving of eternity in hell. Imagine her not understanding that the Son of God took her place on the cross, shedding His innocent blood to satisfy the Father’s wrath towards her selfish, wicked thoughts. But then imagine her profound relief when she finally heard the Gospel and gratefully received God’s grace.

I don’t have to image that scenario. I lived it almost 47 years ago.

Looking back on that time, I praise the Lord for allowing me to sense my wretched condition, despite the pain of knowing that I belonged in hell. As strange as it sounds, God’s grace opened my eyes to see my sin. Until He did that, I was blind to my need for a Savior.

The hymn, Amazing Grace, always brings me back to that 17-year-old girl who experienced both the terror of her sins and the joy of God’s forgiveness. ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved beautifully encapsulates my testimony. Does it describe yours?

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