Flashback Friday: The Gospel Can’t Be Shared Often Enough

Originally posted August 28, 2010:

Heavenly Cross

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.

Some of you might disagree with this assessment.  You might even show me Hebrews 6:1-3.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. (ESV)

Of course, that passage actually refers to professing Christians in the First Century who wanted to return to Judaism while still identifying as Christians. By no means is the writer suggesting that believers reach a point at which we no longer need reminding 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.

The apostle Paul reiterates the Gospel in almost all of his epistles. As much as I’d like to take you through each reference, time dictates that I limit myself to just one.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. ~~Romans 5:6-11 (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 Roman Christians of the Gospel, despite the fact that they had already been saved.

Remembering the basic Gospel keeps us humble as we recall the staggering weight of our sin and then the enormous beauty of God’s grace. When we allow other points of doctrine to relegate the Gospel to the background, we can easily start patting ourselves on the back. We begin secretly thinking of ourselves as God’s little darlings, even supposing that He saved us because we were worthy of salvation.

The Gospel redirects the praise and honor back to Christ. As we recount His grace in shedding His innocent blood for us, we can’t resist praising Him. We marvel that such a holy God would condescend to sinners like us.  Indeed, each time we think about Him on the cross, paying the price for our rebellion against Him, we adore Him all the more!

Finally, we should realize that we will spend eternity worshiping Him as the Lamb slain for us.

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” ~~Revelation 5:6-12 (ESV)

If the Gospel will be proclaimed throughout eternity, what makes us think that we’ve grown beyond the need to hear it now?

We can never hear the Gospel too often! Let’s cherish it now, knowing that we’ll cherish it forever.

There’s Hope Within Those Clouds

A year ago, we all breathed a sigh of relief. 2020, with its lockdowns, social distancing and masks, was finally receding into the rear view mirror. Two vaccines had been approved, and a third was pending. We heard vague promises that schools would reopen and we’d be eating indoors at our favorite restaurants again. My doctor assured me that, once people got their shots, mask mandates would end and I could use para-transit and public transportation without anyone questioning her note exempting me from wearing a mask. We greeted New Year’s Day 2021 enthusiastically. This year would be better!

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A Song To Make Us Think

As a teenager, I liked the music of B.J. Thomas — especially “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” So I praised the Lord when, somewhere around 1979, he made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I bought both of his Christian albums and wore out my cassette player by playing them.

Monday John put “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” on YouTube in honor of the weather. I then asked him to search for Thomas’ Christian songs (he had no idea that B.J. Thomas had recorded Christian songs), and we were pleasantly surprised that YouTube had quite a number of them.

Of course they were simplistic and a tad smaltzy. Most popular Christian music during that time period was. But John and I listened to several songs, hoping B.J. Thomas had a genuine conversion.

One song captured my attention.

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Flashback Friday: He Said, “Look Mommy — I’m Wearing A Dress!”

Originally published March 29, 2017:

glory-cloud

A few days ago, someone told  me that her three-year-old godson met his mother when she came to pick him up from preschool, greeting her with the words, “Look Mommy — I’m wearing a dress!” Horrified, his mother asked him why he was in a dress. He pointed to his teachers and claimed, “Them gave it to me!”

“Oh no,” the teachers argued, “we gave him a choice. We want our children to use costumes to express themselves.”

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It’s Getting Dark, But We Know Who’s Coming

We’ve been through another tough week in the United States of America. I’ve been through a discouraging week in my personal life.

Yesterday’s celebration of Independence Day seemed odd, given the apparent direction of our country. I can’t imagine that even John Adams (who advocated for centralized government) would approve of the things that have happened in the last three months.

I don’t approve of what’s happening in my personal life, for that matter.

Life is getting darker than I’ve ever seen it, and it certainly threatens to get worse. Didn’t Jesus say it would? We have no reason to feel surprised by the encroaching darkness, thoughts it grieves and frightens even the most mature Christian.

How encouraging, then, to remember that Jesus is returning to establish His kingdom! We don’t know when He will come back, and we probably shouldn’t indulge in too much speculation about it.

But what a comfort to know that He will come at just the right time! One day, all madness will end and He will reign in perfect righteousness. The violence will fade away, sickness will end and creation will be restored. Best of all, He will receive the honor and glory that rightfully belongs only to Him! Hallelujah!

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Praise Him Even Now

All of us would probably like a refund for the year 2020. To the naked eye, there’s little reason to praise the Lord. The anger and frustration swells both because of COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd, not to mention the anarchy generated by demands to defund and/or abolish the police.

It’s a sad, heartbreaking time.

Yet God hasn’t abandoned His creation. He may be judging it by giving us over to our rebellion against His Word — indeed, I personally believe that to be the case. It may be difficult to adopt the so-called new normal that government leaders will impose on us. But all the negativity we currently experience has no power to stand against the goodness and sovereignty of our God and King.

A day approaches when Christ will return to establish His kingdom. At that time, He will eradicate every disease and will govern the entire world in perfect righteousness and justice. Christians long for that day!

The wonderful news is that He reigns even now. The chaos we see lies in His control as He uses it to accomplish purposes that we neither see nor understand. One glorious day, all creatures of our God and King will praise Him. filling the new heavens and earth with alleluias. Thankfully, Christians don’t need to wait for that day.

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Useless Body, Useless Mind — All For God’s Purposes

Sunset03

Our pastor livestreams the Wednesday evening Bible Study through our church website and our church Facebook page. At the concluding of each study, he takes questions submitted through emails or Facebook comments.

This week, someone asked how people with severe mental disabilities can be saved. With great compassion, our pastor equated such a situation with that of a child dying in infancy. He cited 2 Samuel 12:14-23 (particularly verse 23) and Deuteronomy 32:4 to substantiate the belief that God will take people with severe intellectual disabilities to heaven.

The brief discussion reminded me of a young man who lived in the nursing home where I spent two years. Cerebral Palsy had not only rendered him a quadriplegic, but it made him blind and non-verbal. As if that wasn’t enough, he Read More »

Mostly Reminding Myself This year Time

My back is improving, and spring is here. Therefore my mind turns to Boston and dreams of driving my relatively new power wheelchair through the Public Garden, around Boyleston Street and on the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Although I received this chair a little over a year ago, it needed so many modifications that I couldn’t start using it until October. By then, of course, the weather got too cold for trips to the city. I’ve only gotten to drive outdoors once — and just to Walgreen’s for a Shingles shot.

Now the COVID-19 lockdown may be ending…but not for seniors and people with underlying conditions.  We might have restrictions until a vaccine is available. Which might not happen until early next year.

Despite knowing that God is sovereign, I grieve the potential loss of Boston adventures this year. John and I are aging — we may not have many summers left before our bodies can’t handle going to Boston for anything other than doctor appointments. So the extension of COVID-19 restrictions upsets me.  More than it should.

In response, I frequently confess to the Lord my lack of eternal perspective. I love Boston, but it can’t hold a candle to the New Jerusalem where I’ll forever behold the face of my Savior. I must constantly remind myself that I’ve taken His cross. This world (including Boston) doesn’t belong to me. Neither do I belong to it. Something far better awaits me. Someone far better awaits me!

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Beyond Heavenly Wheelbarrows And Tennis Courts

Heaven's Glory

Eschatology intimidates me. Although I have been a Christian for a little over 49 years, I can’t take iron clad positions on when our the Rapture will occur in relation to the Tribulation or which saved people will live in the Millennal Kingdom. Many of you will undoubtedly be disappointed that I don’t unquestioningly follow John MacArthur’s pronouncements on these points. But I just don’t think I understand the finer points of eschatology well enough to take a stand on these two matters.

I’m not sure it’s necessary that I be an expert in eschatology, frankly. It’s an important topic, yes. But minds far more brilliant than mine have debated the details for centuries.

That said, I do have firm convictions about our eternal state. And I find much of contemporary evangelical speculation about heaven to be man-centered and silly. Furthermore,  much of what evangelicals say regarding heaven bears almost no resemblance to the Bible’s depictions of heaven.

My disability provides an extra opportunity to hear some of the foolish ideas people have about the eternal kingdom. For instance, friends often talk about Read More »

It’s An Election Year, And Candidates From Both Parties Promise To Save The World

Silent FireworksUntil I was 42, I was a registered Democrat. Interestingly, I usually crossed party lines when voting for presidents, but for the most part I believed that Democrats cared about the underprivileged. I saw no inconsistency between my Christian convictions and my political convictions other than an increasing support of abortion within my party.

In my defense, back then the Democrats made room for pro-life voters. Currently, I might note, the Republican party still has room for pro-choice voters and politicians such as Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker. So please understand that, back then, I sincerity believed my faith informed my politics.

In 1995, the abortion issue caused me to switch my party affiliation. When John and I began chatting online three years later, he helped me understand why the Republican view of the economy better addresses poverty. Now I believe I’m affiliated with a party that better reflects Biblical values.

Having said all that, I’m troubled Read More »