They Killed The Man Who Would Not Suffer Loss

Today’s song probably doesn’t technically qualify as a hymn, but I love its portrayal of Christ’s relationship with the stubborn Pharisees. For all their study of Scripture, these men were trapped in blindness, unable to recognize the very Messiah they claimed to await.

Often, people challenge Christians who study the Bible, asking if we’d be as clueless if Jesus appeared to us. I thought about that question as I listened to this song, remembering that those who pose this question typically want a humble answer of “Perhaps not.” The objective is to elevate an experiential knowledge over the Word of God.

In part, they make a valid point. None of us can recognize the Lord unless The Holy Spirit illumines God’s Word as we read and study it. Indeed, Nicodemus came to saving faith in Jesus because the Spirit opened his eyes to see that Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. His study didn’t blind him to the truth. Rather, he needed the Holy Spirit to help him comprehend his studies.

So yes, I would recognize Jesus if He appeared to me because His Holy Spirit would reveal Him as I consulted Scripture.

The other Pharisees in the First Century could not recognize their Messiah precisely because the Holy Spirit hadn’t opened their ability to understand Scripture. If they actually had understood Who He was, God’s sovereign plan of atonement wouldn’t have happened. They could not understand in order that they could not alter God’s plan of redemption.

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A Fun Little Song With Truth We Can Celebrate

It was a fun little song. It amuses me that, 47 years later, I still  remember both the lyrics and the upbeat tune. Especially since I really didn’t understand exactly what it meant.

Being good Charismatics, we predictably sang this ditty almost every time someone decided to lay hands on me for healing. After all, we assured ourselves,  we were merely claiming God’s promise in Romans 8:11. In our understanding, that fragment of Scripture taught that Christ’s resurrection guaranteed physical healing in this present life.

But looking at this verse in context, we see an entirely different meaning, and a meaning that gives us a correct way to apply Christ’s resurrection to ourselves. Let’s read this verse in its immediate context first, and then we’ll talk about how it fits into the apostle Paul’s overall argument.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. ~~Romans 8:1-11 (ESV)

Even here, we can plainly see that Paul is talking about personal holiness rather than physical healing. He contends that the same Holy Spirit Who affected Christ’s resurrection gives us Christ’s very righteousness, thereby empowering us to live in obedience to God’s law instead of following the dictates of our sinful inclinations.

You might wonder why Paul refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit Who raised Christ from the dead. To answer that question, we need to go back to Romans 6, where the apostle discusses our baptism as a way of identifying with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. ~~Romans 6:1-4 (ESV)

As the Spirit raised Christ literally, so He raises us figuratively in our present life to resist sin and to walk in righteousness. Going back to Romans 8:1-11, then, we understand that the same Spirit Who raised Christ from the dead gives us Christ’s life in order that we can live in Christ’s righteousness. Through the Lord’s resurrection, we have new lives, liberating us from the tyranny of sin.

Certainly His resurrection also carries the assurance of our physical resurrection at Christ’s return, as we’ll discuss in subsequent blog posts. Please don’t misunderstand me as saying that the benefits of Christ’s resurrection are limited to their implications in our present life. But also appreciate the wonderful truth that His resurrection allows us to enjoy a new life, even now, that permits us to experience His righteousness.

That little song based on Romans 8:11 is still fun to sing. Its proper context makes it even more fun as we celebrate the victory over sin that we enjoy because the same Spirit Who raised Christ from the dead dwells in us!

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Easter All Year Round

Is it too early to start celebrating Christ’s resurrection?

Talk about a ridiculous question! The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ provides the cornerstone of our faith, and really should be celebrated throughout the year. Because He rose from the dead as He said He would, He guarantees that He will one day raise us to live with Him forever. That promise fills me with joy!

Since celebrating Christ’s resurrection can never begin too soon, let’s get into the Resurrection Day spirit with this contemporary hymn that accentuates the joy of His triumph over sin and death.

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And Yes, My Heart Got Overwhelmed This Past Week

One of the difficulties inherent in embracing Reformed Theology lies in the tension between knowing the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and maintaining a trusting attitude when serious trials assault you. And if you blog about His sovereignty, you know people are watching to see whether or not you really believe what you so loudly profess.

Well, I’ve been tested quite a bit lately, starting with wheelchair problems that began over two weeks ago. Other issues, in varying degrees of intensity and severity, ensued, and I found myself struggling to trust the Lord to take care of me and John.

To God’s glory, the most threatening matters got resolved yesterday, thanks to a very alert pharmacist who took time to investigate and to my husband’s determination to fiddle with our printer. Other issues remain, including my temperamental wheelchair. New problems seem ready to pounce. And yes, I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed amid it all.

By God’s providence, my reading plan had me in Psalms during the thickest part of these trials. So many songs my church sang back in the 80s came directly from Psalms, including one from Psalm 61 that resonates with my struggle to trust God’s sovereignty in my circumstances.  This ancient hymn of David set to 20th Century music reminds me that when my heart is overwhelmed, He will be the Rock that is higher than I.

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Looking Towards Reformation Day — The Real Focus

I praise the Lord for the Reformation. The courageous men and women who stood for God’s Word against the Roman Catholic Church certainly deserve to be celebrated for restoring the doctrines of grace to us. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows how much I admire the Reformers.

But this weekend I discovered a modern hymn that reminded me to keep my focus on Christ. Ultimately, the Reformers sought to bring attention back to Him. Therefore, as we rejoice in this 500th anniversary, let’s rejoice even more in the Lord Jesus Christ Who deserves all glory and praise. Soli Deo gloria!

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Sin’s Curse Has Lost It’s Grip On Me

The Gospel has so many wonderful facets, doesn’t it? Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the truth that Christ’s death emancipates us from sin so completely that we can even stand against our own temptations! Think about it, dear sisters: We no longer have to sin!

Of course, we don’t always appropriate that grace, and the Lord generously forgives us each time.  Nevertheless, we can rejoice that our growth in Him enables us to sin less and less frequently because of His grace.

As we know, freedom from sin is only one aspect of the Gospel. Today’s hymn touches on several equally wonderful points. And all these blessings come through Christ alone.

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We Stand Forgiven

The Gettys write such wonderful 21st Century hymns, don’t you think? The melodies encourage our voices to soar at just the right places to reigned Scriptural truths the the lyrics so eloquently express. As a descendant of Irish immigrants, I don’t exactly object to the hints of Celtic phraseology, either!

But I mostly love the solid theology woven throughout their songs. Within that sound theology, they convey amazing passion and adoration for the Lord and His grace towards us.

The Power of the Cross, arguably one of the Gettys’ most popular hymns, sets forth brilliant theology in depicting Christ’s atoning work at Calvary. It touches on several significant aspects of that event, culminating with its marvelous implications for believers. Most powerfully, the refrain continually circles back to the assuring words: “We stand forgiven at the cross.”

And I so cherish that forgiveness!

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